The Excellency of Christ (3)
“And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev. 5:5-6).
Edwards continues his meditation on how seemingly diverse attributes converge with incomparable beauty and harmony in Jesus.
3. There meet in the person of Christ the deepest reverence towards God and equality with God. Christ, when on earth, appeared full of holy reverence towards the Father. He paid the most reverential worship to him, praying to him with postures of reverence. Thus we read of his “kneeling down and praying,” Luke 22:41. This became Christ, as one who had taken on him the human nature, but at the same time he existed in the divine nature, whereby his person was in all respects equal to the person of the Father. God the Father has no attribute or perfection that the Son has not, in equal degree, and equal glory. These things meet in no other person but Jesus Christ.
4. There are conjoined in the person of Christ infinite worthiness of good, and the greatest patience under sufferings of evil. He was perfectly innocent, and deserved no suffering. He deserved nothing from God by any guilt of his own, and he deserved no ill from men. Yea, he was not only harmless and undeserving of suffering, but he was infinitely worthy — worthy of the infinite love of the Father, worthy of infinite and eternal happiness, and infinitely worthy of all possible esteem, love, and service from all men.
And yet he was perfectly patient under the greatest sufferings that ever were endured in this world. Heb. 12:2, “He endured the cross, despising the shame.” He suffered not from his Father for his faults, but ours. He suffered from men not for his faults, but for those things on account of which he was infinitely worthy of their love and honor, which made his patience the more wonderful and the more glorious. 1 Pet. 2:20, etc. “For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently, but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” There is no such conjunction of innocence, worthiness, and patience under sufferings, as in the person of Christ.
5. In the person of Christ are conjoined an exceeding spirit of obedience, with supreme dominion over heaven and earth. Christ is the Lord of all things in two respects: he is so as God-man and Mediator, and thus his dominion is appointed, and given him of the Father. Having it by delegation from God, he is as it were the Father’s vicegerent. But he is Lord of all things in another respect, viz. as he is (by his original nature) God. So he is by natural right the Lord of all, and supreme over all as much as the Father. Thus, he has dominion over the world, not by delegation, but in his own right. He is not an under God, as the Arians suppose, but to all intents and purposes, supreme God.
And yet in the same person is found the greatest spirit of obedience to the commands and laws of God that ever was in the universe, which was manifest in his obedience here in this world. John 14:31 “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 15:10, “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” The greatness of his obedience appears in its perfection, and in his obeying commands of such exceeding difficulty. Never anyone received commands from God of such difficulty, and that were so great a trial of obedience, as Jesus Christ. One of God’s commands to him was, that he should yield himself to those dreadful sufferings that he underwent. See John 10:18, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” — “This commandment received I of my Father.” And Christ was thoroughly obedient to this command of God. Heb. 5:8, “Though he were a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things that he suffered.” Phil. 2:8, “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Never was there such an instance of obedience in man or angel as this, though he was at the same time supreme Lord of both angels and men.
6. In the person of Christ are conjoined absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation. This is another unparalleled conjunction. Christ, as he is God, is the absolute sovereign of the world, the sovereign disposer of all events. The decrees of God are all his sovereign decrees, and the work of creation, and all God’s works of providence, are his sovereign works. It is he that worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will. Col. 1:16, 17, “By him, and through him, and to him, are all things.” John 5:17, “The Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Mat. 8:3, “I will, be thou clean.”
But yet Christ was the most wonderful instance of resignation that ever appeared in the world. He was absolutely and perfectly resigned when he had a near and immediate prospect of his terrible sufferings, and the dreadful cup that he was to drink. The idea and expectation of this made his soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and put him into such an agony that his sweat was as it were great drops or clots of blood, falling down to the ground. But in such circumstances he was wholly resigned to the will of God. Mat. 26:39, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” verse 42, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
7. In Christ do meet together self-sufficiency, and an entire trust and reliance on God, which is another conjunction peculiar to the person of Christ. As he is a divine person, he is self-sufficient, standing in need of nothing. All creatures are dependent on him, but he is dependent on none, but is absolutely independent. His proceeding from the Father, in his eternal generation or filiation, argues no proper dependence on the will of the Father. For that proceeding was natural and necessary, and not arbitrary. But yet Christ entirely trusted in God: his enemies say that of him, “He trusted in God that he would deliver him,” Mat. 27:43. And the apostle testifies, 1 Pet. 2:23, “That he committed himself God.”
And so we worship and adore him!