Article II: Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man

This post is part of a Lenten series on the 39 Articles.

number 2Article II: Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

Before you do anything else, read the Article again. Several times. OK, turn off your internal copy editor which will note that this is one gigantic run-on sentence. Read the Article as poetry. Seriously, come back here in a few minutes after you’ve read this as poetry.

Wasn’t that lovely? Bet you didn’t think you’d be pondering the Incarnation on the first Friday of Lent. That in itself is a good juxtaposition to remember. Though we come ever closer in our liturgical year to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we are never very far from the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They are inseparable aspects of our salvation.

Like the theological truths of the first Article, there is more here than one can adequately address in a short blog post. One could write a book on the depth and breadth of the mysteries named in the second Article. I will simply highlight a couple of aspects here that strike me.

Over two millennia, there has been a constant tension in the Church over Christ’s natures. It’s easy to say that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine, but it’s hard to talk about Christ and be convincing that this is really true. Often the Church has focused in his divine nature, neglecting his humanity. But these days, I suspect many Christians understand Jesus quite well as a human and cannot fathom his full divinity.

It seems to me that one safeguard here is to remember Christ’s eternal being, “begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father.” “In the beginning was the Word.” Jesus didn’t just die for our sins; he brought the universe into being that we might be saved. Thinking about Jesus not only as a teacher, or the son of Mary, or even hanging on the cross, but also as One who was present at the moment of creation reminds us of who he is for us.

There’s plenty more to think and pray about. Perhaps you’ll share your own thoughts in the comments.

Meanwhile, here are some things on which you might meditate:

  • Is it hard to ponder Jesus Christ as really, truly divine and really, truly human? Why? What would it mean for us today to accept his two natures?
  • It has become a bumper sticker slogan: “Jesus died for our sins.” Spend some time with that — the awesome burden that is lifted from us.
  • Beyond the one who paid the debt of sin, who is Jesus Christ for you?
  • Hold Good Friday and Christmas Eve together in your mind for a bit.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Previous: Article I: Of faith in the Holy Trinity
Next: Article III: Of the going down of Christ into hell

2 Responses

  1. Bob Chapman says:

    Reading the 39 Articles as poetry is the biggest revelation I am getting from this. I’ve always appreciated the lyrical nature of the traditional language in the Book of Common Prayer, and how that affects faith. I’ve never considered the artful nature of the writing in the 39 Articles before (as compared to reading the 39 Articles as you would read propositions in a mathematical proof).

    Maybe there is more truth to be discovered here?

  1. March 12, 2011

    opinion for Quadragesima…

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