Monday, January 7, 2013

Why did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?

Remember at the time of the sin of Adam and Eve they clothed themselves- with what? Fig leaves. That was their first act after the fall. 
So now Jesus is making the same figure of the fig tree the very last of His wondrous signs. Just as He was headed toward the cross, He cursed a fig tree – not every fig tree, but that one alone for its symbolic significance – saying: “May no one ever eat fruit of you again.” 
In this way the curse laid upon Adam and Eve was bring reversed. For they had clothed themselves with fig leaves. 
Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386)
Chatechital Lectures

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who is Jesus and What has He Done?

God has given His final revelation in His Son (1:1-2a). The seven affirmations that immediately follow in the introduction to Hebrews bring out the greatness of the Son and show why the revelation in Him is the highest God can give (vv. 2b-4): He is the heir of everything and the mediator of creation, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, and so is uniquely qualified to be the final manifestation of God, for He is identified with God Himself. He has accomplished something that no one else could achieve, the purification of sins which occurred in His once-for-all death on the cross (7:27;10:12,12:2). Having completed the work of atonement, the Son has been exalted and enthroned in the place of honour, at the right hand of God. He is the divine Son who learned obedience by what He suffered and, once made perfect, became the author of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (5:5,8). Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus, the great High Priest who has passed through the heavens is triumphantly identified as ‘the Son of God’ in the confession of faith by believers (4:14-16)?

Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, Apollos Press, Nottingham, 2010 Pg. 377
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The Weakness and Strength of Jesus Christ

As a man He was baptized, but He absolved sins as God; He needed no purifying rites Himself - His purpose was to hallow water. 
As a man He was put to the test, but as God He came through victorious - yes, bids us be of good cheer, because He has conquered the world. 
He hungered - yet He fed thousands. He is indeed “living, heavenly bread.” 
He thirsted - yet He exclaimed: “Whoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Indeed He promised that believers would become fountains. 
He was tired - yet He is the “rest” of the weary and burdened. He was overcome by heavy sleep - yet He lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter. 
He pays tax - yet He used a fish to do it; indeed He is Emperor over those who demand the tax. 
He is called a “Samaritan, demonically possessed” - but He rescues the man who came down from Jerusalem and fell among the thieves. 
Yes, He is recognized by demons, drives out demons, drowns deep a legion of spirits, and sees the prince of demons falling like lightning. 
He is stoned, yet not hit; 
He prays, yet He hears prayer. 
He weeps, yet He puts an end to weeping. 
He asks where Lazarus is laid - He was man; yet He raises Lazarus - He was God. 
He is sold, and cheap was the price - thirty pieces of silver, yet He buys back the world at the mighty cost of His own blood. 
A sheep, He is led to the slaughter - yet He shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well. 
A lamb, He is dumb - yet He is “the Word,” proclaimed by “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” 
He is weakened, wounded - yet He cures every disease and every weakness. 
He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it - yet by the tree He restores us. Yes, He saves even a thief crucified with Him; he wraps all the visible world in darkness. He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat - and who is He? Why, One who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire. 
He surrenders His life, yet He has power to take it up again. Yes, the veil is rent, for things of heaven are being revealed, rocks split, and dead men have an earlier awakening. 
He dies, but He vivifies and by death, He destroys death. 
He is buried, yet He rises again. 
He goes down to Hades, yet He leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come to judge the quick and the dead, and to probe discussions like these. 
If the first set of expressions starts you going astray, the second set takes your error away.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389), 

On God and Christ, 
St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002 pg. 87-88