All posts by Uri Brito

Holy Week: The Reproach

The reproach:

My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?

Holy God. Holy God. Holy Mighty One. Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

Geerhardus Vos on the meaning of Rabboni

At first sight these words may seem a contrast to those immediately preceding. And yet no mistake could be greater than to suppose that the Lord’s sole or chief purpose was to remind her of the restrictions which henceforth were to govern the intercourse between himself and her. His intention was much rather to show that the desire for a real communion of life would soon be met in a new and far higher way than was possible under the conditions of local earthly nearness. “Touch me not” does not mean: Touch is too close a contact to be henceforth permissible; it means: the provision for the highest, the ideal kind of touch has not been completed yet: “I am not yet ascended to my Father.” His words are a denial of the privilege she craved only as to the form and moment in which she craved it; in their larger sense they are a pledge, a giving, not a withholding of himself from her. The great event of which the resurrection is the first step has not yet fulfilled itself; it requires for its completion the ascent to the Father. But when once this is accomplished then all restrictions will fall away and the desire to touch that made Mary stretch forth her hand shall be gratified to its full capacity. The thought is not different from that expressed in the earlier saying to the disciples: “Ye shall see me because I go to the Father.” There is a seeing, a hearing, a touching, first made possible by Jesus’ entrance into heaven and by the gift of the Spirit dependent on the entrance. -Geerhardus Vos a

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Augustine postulates on why the angels were positioned as they were in the tomb

For look she did, “and saw two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” Why is it that one was sitting at the head, and the other at the feet? Was it, since those who in Greek are called angels are in Latin nuntii [in English, news-bearers], that in this way they signified that the gospel of Christ was to be preached from head to foot, from the beginning even to the end? a

  1. St. Augustine: Homilies on the Gospel of John; Homilies on the First Epistle of John; Soliloquies  (back)

Which Crowd?

Doug Wilson summarizes well that the crowd that received Jesus is not the same crowd that cried out “Crucify him:”

There are many things that can be drawn out of this story, but this morning, we are just going to focus on one of them. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem—where He was to be lifted up and draw all men to Himself—He was greeted by multitudes. Contrary to the popular assumption that the Triumphal Entry crowd and the “crucify Him” crowd were the same people, we have no reason for identifying them. These people who greeted Him were doing so sincerely. Jesus was approaching Jerusalem in order to save multitudes, and He was greeted there by multitudes. Their central cry was Hosanna, which means “Save, we pray.” In other words, we are praying that You would save us. “Yes,” He answered.

Palm Sunday Meditation

We celebrate today the coming of the King into Jerusalem. I think if Hollywood were to put Palm Sunday into a movie they probably would have Jesus coming in a military tank surrounded by an army ready to declare war. But Hollywood has never read Zechariah. Jesus is King, but Jesus is a king in a far different way than all other kings are kings. As king, He comes endowed with salvation, humble, mounted on a donkey, even a colt, the foal of a donkey. As king, He conquers by offering Himself for His people. And if we want to share His conquest, we must go and go likewise.

The way of kingship is cross before crown; suffering before glory. Jesus turns everything upside down: his coming was filled with nuanced symbolic meaning. His arrival was true to the Hebrew Scriptures, but it was true in a way that they did not expect. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that one way Christ executes his office of king is by ruling and defending us. The Jews wanted to be ruled and defended, but they did not want to be ruled and defended in the way Christ wanted to rule and defend.  Sometimes we want a king, but we want him to function the way we think best. Palm Sunday is the announcement that Christ’s kingship is expressed in a unique way; in a way that puzzles the crowd, but still in a way that gives them hope. May this hope be ours today.

Prayer: Almighty God, on this day, your son Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem and was proclaimed King by those who spread garments and palm branches along his way.  Let those branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our Lord, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.  In his name we pray. Amen.

The Meal and Community

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”

Adam’s acceptance of Eve’s role reverses his rejection of his wife earlier. He chose to restore community with his wife, rather than pursue the game of blame. The pain endured by all the women in the Old Covenant came to an end in the last Eve of the Old Covenant, Mary. Eve, then, is the mother of all living. She is the mother of life and from that life, Jesus, life is given to all those united to him.

This morning it is the Supper that restores community. The meal Adam and Eve shared at the Tree of Knowledge destroyed their community, even though it had the outward marks of community. The meal we share with Jesus restores all true community in the bond of the Spirit. This meal is an affirmation that the Seed of the Woman is our life.

Selfish Salvation

My friend Doug Jones–with whom I have disagreements, etc.–nails it on his assessment of Pilgrim’s Progress. I have never loved the book, but I understand that it is an evangelical obsession. Here’s Jones’ critique of the book in two paragraphs: a

Certainly one of the most misleading classics of the modern period was Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Its influence seeped deep into Protestant culture, so deep that recovery from it will take centuries. The book’s message wasn’t new in itself. It gathered all the worst emphases of the Reformation in one place and soaked our consciousness thoroughly.

Pilgrim’s Progress presents a deeply selfish vision of salvation. It pretends to be about self-denial all while forcing a radical self-focus. Selfish salvation assumes that each Christian stars as the main character in the gospel story. Selfish salvation believes that the gospel is primarily about getting individuals into heaven and that self-interest is the primary motivation that gets us there. Selfish salvation focuses on an individual’s struggle with personal sins over and above the community.

  1. Dismissing Jesus, chapter 9  (back)

Food and Hunger in the Bible

James Jordan’s fascinating essay entitled Food and Faith speaks about the hunger that God places in man after the fall. Man was fully satisfied in the garden. He found satisfaction in the gifts of Yahweh. As Jordan writes, “Repeatedly throughout the Bible, especially in the wilderness wanderings, God made His people hungry so that they would cry to Him as the only source of life. ” God is the food of weary man. God is our food. Only as we eat his body and drink his blood do we find fulfillment and our hunger is satisfied.

Lent rebuilds marriages

Lent rebuilds marriages, as we commune with the Perfect Husband who gave Himself wholly for His Bride. – Peter Leithart

We are considering this season how we can begin to re-orient our attention to the Crucified Lord. There is a brokenness that takes place at Genesis 3; a relational brokenness. And this is why seasons like these help us to re-focus on that brokenness and find a rationale to re-energize our loyalty to Jesus our Lord.

Lent helps us to see ourselves as God sees us: marred by sin, but justified in Christ. And in this recognition we begin to grasp that our personal and corporate relationship with our Lord is always in need of refining, and Christ is committed to refining us.

Christ is the perfect husband and the more we commune with him the more we understand his ways and his desires for us.

Christ is not a despotic husband. He serves and serves and loves and loves and he dies for our sake; to show us that no greater love exists than that of a Lord who gives Himself wholly for His Bride.