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“Therefore, relying on this pledge, we trust that we are sons of God, for God’s natural Son fashioned for himself a body from our body, flesh from our flesh, bones from our bones, that he might be one with us.  Ungrudgingly, he took our nature upon himself to impart to us what was his, and to become both Son of God and Son of man in common with us.”

-John Calvin

Institutes on the Christian Religion

Calvin penned these words to remind people that God indeed understands our lot.  He know what it is like to hurt, grieve, suffer, and be rejected.  The Second Person of the Trinity humbled Himself and became Incarnate, becoming a man.  This God-Man, as it were, bore all of our similarities and weaknesses.  Jesus, no doubt, became ill at times, had a sore neck and even suffered a tremendous headache.  Jesus was human, and He knows what we go through even in the midst of our, at times, seemingly monotonous life.

Now, how does this correlate with Thanksgiving?  I wrote this piece specifically for today because whatever we may face presently, Christ know what we are going through.  We can understand and hold onto the reality that Jesus is our High Priest (as the writer to the Hebrews would suggest) that sympathizes with us.  He did not sit idly by hoping that things would get better for us.  Instead, the Word of God became incarnate, taking on a human body.  It is almost as if God decided to roll up His sleeves and redeem His creation.  Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked across ancient Palestine and experienced what fallen humanity faces.

The very Image and Son of God became man that we might become sons and daughters, indeed joint heirs of the Father.  Today, let us rejoice in the fact that Jesus became man in order that we might receive what was imparted “to us what was his, and to become both Son of God and Son of man in common with us.”

Thanks be to God!

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Philemon is an epistle of Paul’s that is not often read.  It is stuck there within the canon of the New Testament, wedged in between better known works.  Yet, within this book lies a remarkable story.  A story that flips the social order of Rome and rightly gets to the heart of the gospel of freedom and equity.  Martin Luther frames the story within a larger context of salvation and redemption.  Luther writes in his preface to The Epistle of St Paul to Philemon,

This epistle gives us a masterful and tender illustration of Christian love.  For here we see how St. Paul takes the part of poor Onesimus and, to the best of his ability, advocates his cause with his master.  He acts exactly as if he were himself Onesimus, who had done wrong.  Yet he does this not with force or compulsion, as lay within his rights; but he empties himself of his rights in order to compel Philemon also to waive his rights.  What Christ has done for us with God the Father, that St Paul does also for Onesimus with Philemon.   For Christ emptied himself of his rights (Philippians 2:7) and overcame the Father with love and humility, so that the Father had to put away his wrath and rights, and receive us into favor for the sake of Christ, who so earnestly advocates our cause and heartily takes our part.  For we are all his Onesimus’s if we believe.

This is what Paul’s ministry was all about, being conformed into the image of the crucified Christ.  How remarkable it is to rest in the knowledge that the God of the universe emptied Himself and took on flesh, becoming obedient even to the point of death by humiliation.  That death then was followed by the resurrection and subsequent restoration of humanity’s relationship with God.

It really is a wonderful book.  I encourage you to read and reflect upon the glories of restoration through a selfless act.

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