God the Son
The Son of God. Jesus Christ. Redeemer. Bridegroom. Sacrificial Lamb. So many names are given to Christ to explain who He is and what He has done for his Church and the entire World. There are four titles that for me hold so much,and the final one which has touched my heart most deeply in the past few years of my new love of the Church has grown.
1.Son of God and Son of Mary and Joseph
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary. He is the son of our Heavenly Father-God’s ONLY son. A story comes to mind that really sends the message home about Christ as the only begotten son and it is often a source of so much anger from anti-christians and is even used against the Church. It is a story that is often misunderstood, and that story is the story of Abraham and Isaac ( Genesis 21 – 22).
Abraham had just been rewarded with a son with Sarah, who had been too old to carry a child. The thrill of finally having a son! If a family didn’t have a son, there was no heir to the family name, land, etc. . So Abraham had been losing hope of having his legacy carried on. Now God wanted to test Abraham’s faith, so he told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. POW! What a hit to the heart that must have been! Devastated (as any father or parent would be), he brought his son up the mountain, and prepared him to be sacrificed. Just as he was about to strike, the Lord sent an angel to stop him.
Many people bring up this story as a means of characterising God as unfair, unloving, and cruel. The Old Testament can’t be understood without the New Testament at times, and this is a perfect example. What God was doing was not only testing Abraham’s faith and trust in Him, but was also preparing us for His own sacrifice of His only son, Jesus. This story illustrates that God would go through the same kind of pain Abraham did when He(God the Father) gave us His only Son to die in our place. Any parent would have gladly given up their own life to save the life of their child, but Jesus allowed for Himself to be sacrificed, a worse pain to Himself and to the Father.
Jesus is also the son to Mary and Joseph. Thinking about Him as a Son of God in itself is magnificent, but recently I have been meditating on Jesus as a young man, living with His Mother Mary and His earthly Father Joseph. One of those days, I wondered to myself “I wonder if Mary ever tickled Jesus as a baby.” I asked Chris this one day and he responded “ All the time.” For some reason, I was so happy imagining this. I can remember as a child laughing until I cried being tickled, played with, and being read to. It was a beautiful thought to imagine Mary sitting with Jesus and tickling His feet or watching Him play with carved toys (perhaps made by Joseph) as she made meals for the family.
Jesus as a Son to God and Mary holds so much beauty. The Holy Family, as a perfect family example. The deep Love of Father and Son, as the deepest love that exists. The Sacrifice of Love made for the sake of the world.
2. Sacrifice: The Paschal Lamb
I would like to begin with a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows Himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses His mission: “to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.“
Jesus offered himself up freely as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Submissively, He was lead to Calvary, never complaining, but only wishing for the will of his Father to be done. It is only through the Sacrifice of the Cross that we are able to enter into communion with God, which we break through sin and overcome death We are able to enter into this reality through the Sacraments which He gave to us, through prayer, and a life of love and sacrifice which is united to Him.
During the Passover, each family would sacrifice a male lamb of one year old. This was to fulfill God’s command to Moses in order for the Israelites to be freed from egypt. They would consume all of the lamb with haste. The blood of the lamb would then be put on the doorpost of the home. If this command was not fulfilled, the first born child of the family would die, as would the first born of any animal.
Christ’s Passion is the new Passover, and this is acknowledged on Holy Saturday. Christ is the new sacrifice. He is the Lamb that saves us. He Sacrifices Himself willingly, out of love for the World.
Jesus is our redeemer. He is our Saviour from sin and from death. It is only in Him that we are saved. Stated in the CCC,
616 It is love “to the end” that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now “the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.” No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.
When explaining the idea of the crucifixion and redemption in Christ, I think about how He didn’t die for JUST the Whole world. His crucifixion was offered up for every single person that ever existed – each of us individually. He knew us by name, and offered Himself up so He could save us and be with us in Heaven. He paid the price for our sins and for that we should be thankful. Though we cannot atone for what we have done by our sin, we can rely on Christ’s Divine Mercy, who calls us to live a life of love for Him, so that He may unite us to Himself.
This is a fairly new concept for me, personally. I investigated writings of the Church on marriage, the imagery of Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the bride was constantly being referred to. He Married the Church by saying yes to the cross. The marriage between Christ and His Church was consummated AT the cross with a self sacrifice in true love. A husband giving up his life for his wife. This act of true, selfless love is so powerful. A sacrifice for the one you love in order that they may have life – ETERNAL life with him.
796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.” The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body
The marriage bed of the cross as the consummation of bridegroom to his bride is powerful imagery of Christ’s undying love for the Church. It is on the cross that his life is laid down for us. As the Church, the Bride of Christ, we accept his sacrifice and we willingly must lay our lives down for Him. This ‘I do’ to Christ and His ‘I do’ to us is a self giving yes to full, fruitful love. Nothing will separate Him from the Church. Thinking about the idea of marriage with this as an example is certainly one of the most romantic and beautiful images that I hold dear in my heart.
Jesus as the Son of God means so many things. Christ’s role as part of the Trinity, the Holy Family, and Bridegroom to the Church are, for me, some of the most powerful images that come to mind when I meditate on our Lord. Check out the resources below for some further reading.
CCC resources on Jesus as son of God and Man
CCC- Christ and the Church
CCC Christ as Sacrifice
Son of God: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14142b.htm
Paschal Lamb: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08755a.htm
Chris West posts on the Cross and the Marriage bed http://www.tobinstitute.org/newsItem.asp?NewsID=67