“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

April 4, 2015

originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in April 2005

“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

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Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew Him by means of the body which He had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

St Ephrem of Edessa


Some short Good Friday quotes

April 3, 2015

This is my first Holy Week on Twitter, and several pastors and Christian leaders have been tweeting some very encouraging and meaningful short quotes and prayers for Good Friday.  I thought it would be good to compile some of the most striking quotes here.

 


Maundy Thursday Quotes: Charles Spurgeon “He yet goes among His people with the basin and the towel”

April 2, 2015

Thanks to a great friend of L&B, Pat Dague for this devotional reflection for Maundy Thursday by Charles Spurgeon:

The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that every day he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master….humbly, patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel. He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins….It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of his erring but yet beloved child!….While we find comfort and peace in our Lord’s daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
…CH Spurgeon


Holy Week Quotes: Don’t miss the joy and the glory in focusing on the suffering

April 16, 2014

Of course, the four biblical Gospels, especially Matthew, Mark, and Luke, concur that Jesus suffered a great deal for us as he gave his life for our salvation so that we could be forgiven of our sins.

And yet, there is another aspect to the Easter story. It is best encapsulated in John’s statement that Jesus, when he “knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world … loved them to the end” (13:1, ESV). When introducing not only the scene of the foot-washing, but his entire passion narrative, John writes the following: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper…” (13:3–4; cf. 14:28).

In other words, John is at pains to show that the Cross was not a dead end but a station on Jesus’ way back home to the Father! This is why he strikes a triumphant note at the outset of narrating the Crucifixion: The Father had given all things into Jesus’ hands, and Jesus was on his way back to his pre-existent glory which he enjoyed with the Father (17:5, 24)! It is, as the writer of Hebrews put it, “for the joy that was set before him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (12:2). This Easter, let’s make sure we don’t leave out the “glory” part when we tell the story of Jesus’ suffering. No doubt, the Cross was glorious in and of itself in displaying Jesus’ perfect obedience, God’s love for humanity, and the God-man’s rendering of substitutionary atonement for sinners. Jesus’ earthly work is indeed “finished” (John 19:30), but his glorious work of ruling, reigning, and interceding continues to this day.

– Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor
From here


Holy Week Quotes: We construct our own whited sepulchres…

April 15, 2014

On this Holy Tuesday, let us reflect upon our blindness and deafness; our shortcomings, hypocrisies and inadequacies. Everything we do is dirty rags before the Lord. We construct our own whited sepulchres full of dead men’s bones, and are plagued by all manner of uncleanness, so let us take the Lord’s warnings about authority and hypocrisy very seriously indeed: we must not be outwardly what we are not inwardly, and our outward must be faithful to the inward. Many are called, but few are chosen.

— from the Cranmer blog, today


Quotes for Holy Monday: the piercing glare of Christ and the sin in our hearts

April 14, 2014

Jesus challenged the hypocrisy of these religious leaders, so does He challenge and confront every kind of hypocrisy and insincerity, all cheating and deceitfulness in our lives and societies. Any act that cannot stand the piercing glare of Christ has to be either purged or extricated from us. Hypocrisy is the direct opposite to purity, and thus we have to remember our Lord’s saying that only the pure in heart will be able to see God, and enter His kingdom. Simply put, we must come face to face with the reality that we cannot serve two masters. If our desire is for holiness, we like the temple must be purified and cleansed regularly from sin.

— from today’s Holy Week Devotional at Anglican Mainstream


A Holy Week and Good Friday Reflection – St. Augustine

March 28, 2013

Man’s maker was made man . . . that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey, that Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.

St. Augustine, Sermons 191.1

H/T All Saints Church, Chapel Hill


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