[Texas In The Spring, 2010 - rendered as oil painting]
Heb. 2:10,11: 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren...
The "mystery" of the incarnation shall remain eternally beyond our finite, creaturely understanding. We can know something of it, even, by our standards, a lot about it, but to fully understand it.... no, it is just too holy... too wondrous... too incredible.
It remains to old men, I think, to rejoice at the degree of their ignorance. Young folks are so inclined to comprehensive assertions. It is not enough to know one or two things and rejoice in that. The zeal of youth is to make encompassing claims. "This is how things are...." Because only the elementary things can be stated categorically and finally, youth does not aspire to go further. Thus, speaking of the incarnation, youth is content to say "God became man....", enough said. That's it... what more do I need to know... that's the comprehensive truth. There is no rejoicing that the depths of that statement remain unexplored in their minds... or the wonder that is hidden in it has not filled their hearts. There's too much to do "out there" in the big old world that promises so much, to dawdle over mystery.
But what a joy it is to lose one's self in that deep pool. What comfort it brings to the soul to have its implications begin to register, not only in our minds but in our hearts.
Here's something that moved me this week.1
When the Eternal Son of God took on flesh and became Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God... He did not become "Man" as such. He did not become comprehensive "Man", "Man" in the abstract, universal sense. The Christ became Elect Man. He united Himself to those He came to save and He united them to Himself, in such a way that a "perfect union" was established. He did not just take on their sins in the sense that they were "added" to Him. He became their sin (2 Cor. 5:21)2 because in some mysterious and blessed way, He became the sinner. All of their present reality was united to Him. From the original sin imputed to them by the death of their first parent Adam, to the sins of omission and commission that characterize their lives from birth to death, all are borne by Him because the sinner and He are inseparable.
But, on the other hand, the sinner being united to Christ now, without blasphemy, is also united to His holiness, His perfection and amazingly enough, His obedience. As Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, took up His calling under the Covenant of Redemption, as He gladly commenced His work on earth and did all that His Father and our Father commanded, so, we being united to Him and in Him, in a sense did these works also. As He was obedient even to the cross so we, by virtue of our union with Him, are fully and (thanks Witsius for this) justly deserving of the reward He gains from it. His righteousness is imputed to us and credited to our account because of this marvelous mystery of His Being. The writer of Hebrews so profoundly and beautifully sums it up: "For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one... He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Witsius develops this beautifully while carefully limiting how far it can be taken.
What a mind boggling and deeply moving truth this is. Is there a soul, that claims to be born again, that can be so dull, so quenched, that it cannot be stirred to astonishment at this? Jesus, even in glory, is still united to us... His elect, who are distinguished from all the rest of mankind by the gift and badge of faith. Because of this "perfect union", we cannot fail to be "where He is" because, in a sense, we are already there. He has ascended to heaven and, in Him, so have we. Our lives in these tents are lived with a longing to complete the "one flesh" relationship that is our true marriage (Eph. 5:30) and our assurance is certain. God would have to deny Himself for this ultimate consummation to be withheld from us. God would have to lie... He would have to be unfaithful... He would have to be a god other than Himself for this union with Christ to be broken, because it was this union with us that constituted the very substance of the Covenant of Redemption between Father and Son before the dawn of Creation. God, the Son, united Himself to us, the true seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16) and God the Father promised that this union would never be broken.
Amazing grace... how great the sound. Wonderful grace of Jesus, ....greater than all my sin. No condemnation, now I fear,... Jesus and all in Him is mine.
Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me... bless His Holy Name.
1 Pondering Witsius' development of Christ as our Surety in "The Economy of the Covenants, Bk. II, Ch. 4, sect. III
2 my translation: "was made sin"