The Excellency of Christ (2)
“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.
“Second, there do meet in the person of Christ such really diverse excellencies, which otherwise would have been thought utterly incompatible in the same subject: such as are conjoined in no other person whatever, either divine, human, or angelical; and such as neither men nor angels would ever have imagined could have met together in the same person, had it not been seen in the person of Christ. I would give some instances.
1. In the person of Christ do meet together infinite glory and lowest humility. Infinite glory, and the virtue of humility, meet in no other person but Christ. They meet in no created person, for no created person has infinite glory, and they meet in no other divine person but Christ. For though the divine nature be infinitely abhorrent to pride, yet humility is not properly predicable of God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, that exists only in the divine nature, because it is a proper excellency only of a created nature. For it consists radically in a sense of a comparative lowness and littleness before God, or the great distance between God and the subject of this virtue. But it would be a contradiction to suppose any such thing in God.
But in Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, those two diverse excellencies are sweetly united. He is a person infinitely exalted in glory and dignity. Phil. 2:6, “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” There is equal honor due to him with the Father. John 5:23. — “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” God himself says to him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” Heb. 1:8. And there is the same supreme respect and divine worship paid to him by the angels of heaven, as to God the Father, verse 6, “Let all the angels of God worship him.”
But however he is thus above all, yet he is lowest of all in humility. There never was so great an instance of this virtue among either men or angels, as Jesus. None ever was so sensible of the distance between God and him, or had a heart so lowly before God, as the man Christ Jesus. Mat. 11:29. What a wonderful spirit of humility appeared in him, when he was here upon earth, in all his behavior! In his contentment in his mean outward condition, contentedly living in the family of Joseph the carpenter and Mary his mother for thirty years together, and afterwards choosing outward meanness, poverty, and contempt, rather than earthly greatness: in his washing his disciples’ feet, in all his speeches and deportment towards them, in his cheerfully sustaining the form of a servant through his whole life, and submitting to such immense humiliation at death!
2. In the person of Christ do meet together infinite majesty and transcendent meekness. These again are two qualifications that meet together in no other person but Christ. Meekness, properly so called, is a virtue proper only to the creature. We scarcely ever find meekness mentioned as a divine attribute in Scripture, at least not in the New Testament. For thereby seems to be signified, a calmness and quietness of spirit, arising from humility in mutable beings that are naturally liable to be put into a ruffle by the assaults of a tempestuous and injurious world. But Christ, being both God and man, has both infinite majesty and superlative meekness.
Christ was a person of infinite majesty. It is he that is spoken of, Psa. 45:3, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.” It is he that is mighty, that rideth on the heavens, and his excellency on the sky. It is he that is terrible out of his holy places, who is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea; before whom a fire goeth and burneth up his enemies round about; at whose presence the earth quakes and the hills melt; who sitteth on the circle of the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; who rebukes the sea and maketh it dry and drieth up the rivers; whose eyes are as a flame of fire; from whose presence, and from the glory of whose power, the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction; who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who has heaven for his throne and the earth for his footstool and is the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity; whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of whose dominion there is no end.
And yet he was the most marvelous instance of meekness, and humble quietness of spirit, that ever was, agreeable to the prophecies of him, Mat. 21:4, 5, “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” And, agreeable to what Christ declares of himself, Mat. 11:29, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” And agreeable to what was manifest in his behavior, for there never was such an instance seen on earth of a meek behavior, under injuries and reproaches, and towards enemies, who when he was reviled, reviled not again. He had a wonderful spirit of forgiveness, was ready to forgive his worst enemies, and prayed for them with fervent and effectual prayers. With what meekness did he appear in the ring of soldiers that were contemning and mocking him. He was silent, and opened not his mouth, but went as a lamb to the slaughter. Thus is Christ a Lion in majesty and a Lamb in meekness.
Worship the One who is both Lion and Lamb!