Friday, June 7, 2013

Section 19: Christ's Sacrifice of Praise

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 12:

"In examining Christ’s sacrificial work, we begin first with his fulfillment of the sacrifice of praise. As the possessor of the fullness of divine glory, Christ was utterly free from the law and therefore the archetype of Christian freedom. For this reason, any obedience that he rendered to the Father is not a legal obligation, but rather a sacrifice of praise: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4). Indeed, Jesus’ own “glorification” (the revelation of his divine power through his death on the cross) is a glorification of the Father. In dying under God’s wrath and the most extreme opposition from sinful humanity, he still confesses God’s goodness and grace and therefore trusts in his vindication and exaltation by the Father: “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (Jn 17:1). Therefore Jesus dies glorifying the Father and confessing his faithful goodness.
Even Jesus’ lamentation on the cross (Mark 15:34) is itself a confession of faith in the goodness and grace of God. Jesus' dying words in Mark are, it must be remembered, a quotation from the prophecy of Psalm 22 and therefore cannot be separated from the liturgical function of lamentation. The Psalms were utilized as the liturgy of the Temple and therefore are all concerned in a sense with the praise of God for his goodness. Psalms of lamentation also assume the existence of and trust in divine goodness. One does not lament if they do not consider God to be gracious and good. Lamentation is faith’s response to appearances that contradict its trust in God’s goodness and graciousness. Those who do not believe God is good and gracious do not lament because the world is precisely as a non-existent or malevolent deity would have it. Therefore, Jesus in his lamentation maintains his faith in God’s Word, in spite of divine hiddenness and condemnation.
As the true human being, Jesus Christ displays perfect faith in God's goodness. Knowing himself to share all things in common with the Father and having this reconfirmed throughout his whole life through God's external Word (in the prophecy of the Scriptures, spoken to his parents, at his baptism and at Tabor, etc.), he trusted with a victorious faith in his own vindication (Heb 12:1-2). Adam and Eve, being surrounded by all good things, doubted God's beneficence at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By contrast, Jesus on the tree of the cross experienced the most extreme opposition, abandonment, and condemnation in his death. Nevertheless, unlike our first parents, he praised God and did not doubt his word of grace: "you are my Son with whom I am well pleased." It is for this reason that both Luther and Thomasius are correct, that Jesus could only redeem if he experienced the total abandonment and wrath of God. Jesus' active righteousness is rooted in his perfect faith in the face of total abandonment."

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