Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Consider his words. Consideer his actions. Remember that he is Lord and you are his servant"

John Chrysostom the Bishop of Constantinople who was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places offers up some of the most meaningful reflections contemplating the derision of our Lord on the cross.

O cross most abominable, most execrable! Did not God rescue the prophets from their dangers? Did God not save the righteous? Why not him? What could equal this folly? The coming of dangers upon the prophets and saints did not injure their honor before God. But what happened to this incomparable person? By what he said and what he did he offended all our expectations to the utmost. He was forever correcting beforehand our assumptions about him. Even when all these ignominies were said and done, they could not prevail, even at that time. The thief who had lived depraved in such great wickedness, who had spent his whole life in murders and house breakings, when these things had been said, only then confessed him. When he made mention of his kingdom, the people bewailed him. These things that were done seemed to testify the contrary in the eyes of many who knew nothing of the mystery of God’s dispensations. Jesus was weak and of no ostensible power; nevertheless truth prevailed even by the contrary evidences.

So hearing all these things, let us arm ourselves against all temptations to anger and outrage. Should you perceive in your heart a swelling of pride, seal your breast against it. Set your hopes only upon the cross. Call to mind the humbling things that were then taking place. Then you will cast out as dust all rage by the recollection of the things that were done to him.

Consider his words. Consider his actions. Remember that he is Lord and you are his servant. Remember that he is suffering for you, and for you individually. You may be suffering only on your own behalf. He is suffering on behalf of all by whom he had been crucified. You may be suffering in the presence of a few. He suffers in the sight of the whole city and of the whole people of the covenant, both of strangers and those of the holy land, to all of whom he spoke merciful words.

Even his disciples forsook him. This was most distressing to him. Those who previously paid him mind suddenly deserted him. Meanwhile his enemies and foes, having captured him and put him on a cross, insulted him, reviled him, mocked him, derided him and scoffed at him. See the Jews and soldiers rejecting him from below. See how he was set between two thieves on either side, and even the thieves insulted him and upbraided him. (The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 87.2.7).

[Simonetti, M. (2002). Matthew 14-28. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 1b. (Page 289). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.]

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