Unable To Endure That Death Should Have The Mastery

Whenever the grace of Christ is teased out, described, or expounded upon, I am deeply moved. For it’s our reality, and to be reminded of it bring us more to life. My heart rejoiced reading this today and I became more alive:

“What–or rather Who–was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing?…For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us…[Pitying] our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery…He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, he took our body…He, the Mighty One, the Artificer [Creator] of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death in place of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us.”

-Athanasius, St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: The Treatise “De Incarnatione Verbi Dei

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5 thoughts on “Unable To Endure That Death Should Have The Mastery

  1. This reminds me of a text I read in college that I recently re-read and shared with our connect group. It’s called Bruchko by Bruce Olson.

    In it, Bruce shares his story of leaving home at 19 to evangelize a murderous tribe of Motilone Indians in South America. He suffers capture, disease, loneliness, torture. Five years after first meeting the Motilone people, he finally has the opportunity to share the gospel with them. But he needs to do it in their language, in words they understand.

    So, he recalls one of their legends about a man who had become an ant. He wanted to help them build their homes, but they were too scared of him when he was a man, so he transformed into an ant. He thought like an ant, looked like an ant, spoke their ant language. He lived with them, and they came to trust him. He later told them that he was the same being who was a man and had once tried to help them improve their home; they could hardly believe it! But when he transformed back into a man and began to move the dirt to build a home, they were no longer afraid. They knew he wouldn’t harm them.

    The lesson of the legend is that if you are big and powerful, you have to become small and weak in order to work with other weak beings. Much like God had done in Jesus.

    So, Bruce used the word for “becoming like an ant” to express to the Motiilones how God is incarnated into man. And they understood.

    It’s a powerful story…maybe after grad school, you can take the time to read it. But I cry every time I hear him tell the tale of how he shared the gospel with the Motilone people for the first time and how they responded to it.

    1. Whoa, that ant analogy is brilliant! I love how this quote reminded you of Bruce Olson’s story. I’ve never heard of it before, so thanks for the recommendation! I just opened my TO READ doc and added this one to the list. The weakness and “foolishness” of the gospel is indeed what makes it so powerful and WISDOM itself.

  2. Very powerful! So neat to read about what is touching you right now.

    The incarnation is hard to wrap one’s mind around…my favorite part of this quote:…”he took our body…He, the Mighty One, the Artificer [Creator] of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt.”
    He really does elevate the value of our bodies in addition to our minds and souls.
    I also recommend Bruchko…quite an unusual missionary story. I remember how he explained what the Bible was to the Motilone people as trail markers, which they could understand.
    Am I right about that @thinkingcloset @Lauren?

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