The Witnesses to Christ Jesus

My spiritual father gave me what has turned out to be the best counsel of my life. He said, “Everything begins and ends with and in Christ Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega. It is all about Christ Jesus. Therefore, through Him all reveals its deepest and truest meaning. All things are to be received and related to in and through Christ Jesus.”

Jesus, in the gospel of John (actually in all of his writings), makes this point in terms of how everything “witnesses to Him.” Specifically, the witness of John the Forerunner, the works He performs, the Father, and the Scriptures. These are not the only witnesses. Later, Jesus will speak, through St. John in His first Epistle, of blood, water, and the Holy Spirit as witnesses to Him.

I glean from this that “all things” glorify the Lord. The witness to Christ Jesus crucified and raised. ALL things. That includes circumstances, our mortality, our relationships. ALL things.

The question is not IF they do. They question is, “Am I willing to adjust my life enough (repent) to embrace the truth that they do and live according to it?!”

If I do, illumination will occur. I will “see” how they do to the extend I need to in order to relate to them “in spirit and in truth.” I will have the sense or understanding of Christ Jesus regarding them.

All things possess the capacity, by the grace of God, to proclaim the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus — the glory of God. Christ Jesus is “everywhere present and fillest all things” in His dying and rising. In as much as these qualities can be found in all things by the grace of God, they are to be sought. In and through all things, I can die with Christ Jesus and be raised with Christ Jesus.

Everything is an aspect of the baptismal moment. This is the significance of the Holy Eucharist. The fulfillment/consummation “at all times and in all places” of our baptism.

In this Mysterious Way, through Christ Jesus, I am able to be in authentic reconciliation and union not only with Christ Jesus, but with all things and all persons as well.

And, in this way, I become the witness I receive: “And you also will bear witness, because lyou have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15.27 NKJV)

I become more and more deified.

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31“If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32“There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.

33“You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34“But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35“He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

36“But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

37“And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.38“You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

39“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 41“I do not receive glory from men; 42but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47“But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”(John 5.31-47)

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Searching the Scriptures in and for Christ Jesus

1 Peter 1:1-2,10-12; 2:6-10, especially vs. 1:10: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.” 

Saint Theophan the Recluse offers two prescriptions for overcoming the disease of ignorance in the heart. “First and most necessary is prayer,” he says, “by which we must implore the Holy Spirit to pour His divine light into our hearts.”

Second, we must probe “deep for the knowledge of [truths], in order to see clearly which of them are good and which bad. We should judge them not as the world and the senses do, but as they are judged by . . . the Holy Spirit . . . the word of the divinely inspired Scriptures, or that of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church” (Unseen Warfare, p. 90).

If we read the Scriptures with the Church, if we search them, praying to the Spirit to bestow right judgment upon us through these divine texts, we will find healing. In these verses, Saint Peter reveals three ways that we heal the disease of ignorance by searching the Scriptures: the restoration of true perspective, the correction of ingratitude, and relief from forgetfulness.

Searching the Scriptures restores our right perspective on life. Secular humanism refers to a world devoid of God, or marginalizes God as an idea confined to people with a particular interest in religion. Scripture, by contrast, approaches God as the primary actor amidst all of human history. He alone offers salvation to all nations, and He alone makes sense of everything that bewilders us.

Note how widely these two views differ! Saint Peter, speaking to his fellow Christians, calls us pilgrims and sojourners (vs. 1:1, 2:11), for he accepts that we belong to a kingdom “not of this world” (Jn 18:36). He sees us as an elect people (1 Pt 1:2; 2:9) who are brought into existence by the actions and love of God (vs. 1:2). We are not merely a group of individuals who happen to come together for religious rituals. Ours is no chance gathering, but an integral part of a plan by which God addresses the sin, sickness, ignorance, and confusion in history.

Christians are not the first people to whom God disclosed His plan to restore all things. The Old Testament prophets received many foresights. As Saint Peter says, they “inquired and searched carefully” into the plan of God (vs. 1:10). Further, by “the Spirit of Christ who was in them,” they were able to foretell “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (vs. 1:11) His triumph over death.

We know that the revelations to the prophets are fulfilled (vs. 1:12 and 1 Cor 10:11)! Consider the great privilege we have received as Christians, for we are the first to know the whole truth. The generations before us did not receive the blessing of knowing Jesus Christ; they only glimpsed, through the ancient prophecies, the truths now known to us in detail.

The honor we have received humbles our mind and fills our heart with gratitude, for God has made us into His people. We have good reason to “stand aright” and offer “a sacrifice of praise,” in the words of the Divine Liturgy. Scripture heals ingratitude!

Finally, as Saint Peter says: we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,” for we have been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (vs. 2:9). Saint Peter reminds us how ancient Israel, once called to be the people of God, was “cast away” (Rom 11:15), while we, “who once were not a people . . . are now the people of God” (1 Pt 2:10).

Let us read the Scriptures to be healed of our forgetfulness. We remember that we “have obtained mercy” (vs. 2:10). We come to Holy Scripture for perspective, and discover mercy!

“Illumine our hearts, O Master, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge.”  – Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
Source: “Dynamis” reflection for January 23, 2015

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