“The mourners of the dead became the swallows of a new spring”

For context, first read the gospel story of the women going to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus (Luke 24:1-12).

Their poor ointments, with which they meant to preserve from corruption Him who Himself keeps the heavens from decay, and with which they desired to anoint Him from whom the heavens take their fragrance! O most fragrant Lord, the only fragrance of the human being and human history; how wondrously did Thou reward these devoted and faithful souls who did not forget you dead in your tomb! You made the Myrrh-Bearing Women the bearers of the tidings of your Resurrection and your glory! They did not anoint your dead body, but you did anoint their living souls with the oil of gladness. The mourners of the dead became the swallows of a new spring.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic – “Homily on the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women”

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Easter is the New Passover, “the crossing-over”

…Now since you are celebrating the holy Pascha, you should know, brethren, what the Pascha is. Pascha means the crossing-over, and so the Festival is called by this name. For it was on this day that the Children of Israel crossed over out of Egypt, and the Son of God crossed over from this world to His Father. What gain is it to celebrate unless you imitate Him Whom you worship; that is, unless you cross over from Egypt, that is, from the darkness of evildoing to the light of virtue, from the love of this world to the love of your heavenly home?

St. Ambrose of Milan – “The Sunday of the Resurrection”

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“Today I rise with him”

Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

St. Gregory the Theologian – Homily on Pascha

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“Glory”: Reflections on John 17

Eternal LifeReading John 17, I’ve always felt there are depths of riches to be mined here than far surpass our abilities (mine to be sure!). In fact, so much so sometimes this chapter can be intimidating. But as I’m reading through John during Lent season for my personal devotions, I’m trying not to shy away from it. And as this is God’s Word, I know by His Spirit’s help, He makes His Word plain for my understanding and my upbuilding.

Glory is the theme of this chapter. The glory of the Father and the Son, the glory the share with One another, and that they now share with us. Yes, us! What a thought! One of the amazing things about this chapter is here is a rare opportunity to hear Jesus praying. And what praying! Here is intimate, rapturous delight rooted in Jesus’ personal circumstances. Here is Jesus expressing his desires, convictions, concerns–all before the Father. He models for us how to pray.

Well, a few thoughts on John 17, a bit of scratching the surface:

1. The glory of the Son is directly linked with the glory of the Father. The two are not in any competition. In fact, the Son’s mission and delight is to glorify the Father. But the Father is only glorified through His Son, Jesus. Specifically, (somehow) the Father will be glorified by what’s about to happen in “the hour”: the scandalous death of Jesus, then the triumph of his resurrection and ascension.

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

2. Jesus’ glory consists in his amazing authority to grant life to whom he wills. The author of life delights to give life to those who believe. Notice how Jesus thinks of eternal life, not in terms of quantity or as escape from the fate of death all humans share. No, eternal life is New Testament code word for something far deeper.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Erik Raymond insightfully notes:

Eternal life is not simply the quantity (how long) but also the quality of the life (how good).

3. Jesus’ glory is tied to his future glory, forever (as always) with the Father, in a relationship of perfect harmony, unity, will. “Now, I am coming to you.”

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

So much of the prayer (vv. 6-13) is Jesus anticipating the glory of being in the presence of the Father. So much mystery here!

4. The Triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit shares His glory with us. Hear Jesus praying for us (me and you). How amazing!

Some highlights:

  1. We share his glory as He sanctifies us in the truth; His Word is truth. We are sanctified by the Word He’s given us.
  2. We share his glory when we share in His suffering. While enduring hatred and strife (“the world has hated them”), we are kept from the evil one!
  3. We share in his glory by knowing His love, the very love that Father, Son and Holy Spirit share. God’s love shed into our hearts is the personal way we experience the glory of the Triune God.  Do you know the love of Jesus?

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Recommended Resource:

Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One

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Does the Holy Spirit have you?

Does the Holy Spirit have you? Does he have all of you, or only some parts of you? Do you grieve him? (see Eph. 4:30), or are you led by him (see Rom. 8:12-14, Gal. 5:18-24)? Do you rely on him to enable you for all those responses to Christ to which he prompts you? Do you reckon with the fact that “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? …” (1 Cor. 6:19 NIV). Do you revere his work within you and cooperate with it or obstruct it by thoughtlessness and carelessness, indiscipline and self-indulgence? Here again, the specific questions must be understood Christ-centeredly; they are all in reality ways of asking whether Christ your Savior is Lord of your life. But to ask them in relation to the Spirit, who indwells us in order to transform us and who works constantly in our hearts and minds to bring us close to Christ and keep us there and who is himself as close as can be to any foul thinking or behavior in which we allow ourselves to engage, is to give them a force and a concreteness that otherwise they might not have. In the world of projecting pictures onto screens this would be called sharpening the focus.

J.I. Packer in Keep in Step with the Spirit, p.78

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Theology … is essentially proclamation that Jesus Christ saves men…

The givenness of Jesus Christ is bound up with the givenness of New Testament theology, which is … nothing less than the Father’s own witness through the Spirit to the Son. Surely there is no real Jesus save the Jesus of that theology.  And New Testament theology … is essentially proclamation that Jesus Christ saves men from the bondage to false gods, false beliefs, false ways, false hopes, and false posturings before the Creator, into which all non-Christian religions and philosophies, impressive as they often are, are locked. New Testament proclamation diagnoses this whole kaleidoscope of falseness and falsehood as rooted in actual if unwitting suppression of general revelation, misdirection of man’s worshipping instincts, and ignorance or rejection of the gospel God has sent. Romans 1:18-3:20, to look no further, is decisive on that; and certainly Emil Brunner was correct when he wrote: “In all religion there is a recollection of the Divine Truth which has been lost; all religion, there is a longing after the divine light and the divine love; but in all religion also there yawns an abyss of demonic distortion of the Truth, and of man’s effort to escape from God.

J.I. Packer in Keep in Step with the Spirit, p. 39

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What are you trusting in today?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
(Psalm 20)

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