The Excellency of Christ (5)
“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 portrayal of Jesus Christ as the one in whom seemingly divergent and mutually exclusive excellencies and acts are found in perfect harmony.]
Second, this admirable conjunction of excellencies appears in the acts and various passages of Christ’s life. Though Christ dwelt in mean outward circumstances, whereby his condescension and humility especially appeared, and his majesty was veiled, yet his divine divinity and glory did in many of his acts shine through the veil, and it illustriously appeared, that he was not only the Son of man, but the great God.
Thus, in the circumstances of his infancy, his outward meanness appeared, Yet there was something then to show forth his divine dignity, in the wise men’s being stirred up to come from the east to give honor to him, their being led by a miraculous star, and coming and falling down and worshipping him, and presenting him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. His humility and meekness wonderfully appeared in his subjection to his mother and reputed father when he was a child. Herein he appeared as a lamb. But his divine glory broke forth and shone when, at twelve years old, he disputed with doctors in the temple. In that he appeared, in some measure, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
And so, after he entered on his public ministry, his marvelous humility and meekness was manifested in his choosing to appear in such mean outward circumstances; and in being contented in them, when he was so poor that he had not where to lay his head, and depended on the charity of some of his followers for his subsistence, as appears by Luke 8 at the beginning. How meek, condescending, and familiar his treatment of his disciples. His discourses with them, treating them as a father his children, yea, as friends and companions. How patient, bearing such affliction and reproach, and so many injuries from the scribes and Pharisees, and others. In these things he appeared as a Lamb. And yet he at the same time did in many ways show forth his divine majesty and glory, particularly in the miracles he wrought, which were evidently divine works, and manifested omnipotent power, and so declared him to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
His wonderful and miraculous works plainly showed him to be the God of nature, in that it appeared by them that he had all nature in his hands, and could lay an arrest upon it, and stop and change its course as he pleased. In healing the sick, and opening the eyes of the blind, and unstopping the ears of the deaf, and healing the lame, he showed that he was the God that framed the eye, and created the ear, and was the author of the frame of man’s body. By the dead’s rising at his command, it appeared that he was the author and fountain of life, and that “God the Lord, to whom belong the issues from death.” By his walking on the sea in a storm, when the waves were raised, he showed himself to be that God spoken of in Job 9:8, “That treadeth on the waves of the sea.” By his stilling the storm, and calming the rage of the sea, by his powerful command, saying, “Peace, be still,” he showed that he has the command of the universe, and that he is that God who brings things to pass by the word of his power, who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast; Psa. 65:7, “Who stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves.” And Psa. 107:29, “That maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” And Psa. 89:8, 9, “O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee, or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.”
Christ, by casting out devils, remarkably appeared as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and showed that he was stronger than the roaring lion, that seeks whom he may devour. He commanded them to come out, and they were forced to obey. They were terribly afraid of him: they fall down before him, and beseech him not to torment them. He forces a whole legion of them to forsake their hold, by his powerful word, and they could not so much as enter into the swine without his leave. He showed the glory of his omniscience, by telling the thoughts of men, as we have often an account. Herein he appeared to be that God spoken of, Amos 4:13, “That declareth unto man what is his thought.” Thus, in the midst of his meanness and humiliation, his divine glory appeared in his miracles, John 2:11, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory.”
And though Christ ordinarily appeared without outward glory, and in great obscurity, yet at a certain time he threw off the veil, and appeared in his divine majesty, so far as it could be outwardly manifested to men in this frail state, when he was transfigured in the mount. The apostle Peter (2 Pet. 1:16, 17) was an “eye-witness of his majesty, when he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; which voice that came from heaven they heard, when they were with him in the holy mount.”
And at the same time that Christ was wont [i.e., inclined or disposed] to appear in such meekness, condescension, and humility, in his familiar discourses with his disciples, appearing therein as the Lamb of God, he was also wont to appear as The Lion of the tribe of Judah, with divine authority and majesty, in his so sharply rebuking the scribes and Pharisees and other hypocrites.
And so we worship him!