Friday, August 29, 2014

The Word of his power

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...

I have always found these verses from Hebrews 1 to be astonishing, but in recent times the reason for my astonishment has changed somewhat.  I used to be amazed that Christ, even during his incarnation, was upholding the universe by his word.  I am not sure that I had a clear conception of what this 'word' was or meant, but I suppose in a vague sense I detected an echo of Genesis 1 and the creation saga.  That the universe was sustained by a word is not surprising if it was created by a word, but that it should be sustained by the word of a human being - of the man Jesus - even as he lived among us...  Even as he died for us...  That was astonishing to me.

Now I incline to think somewhat differently.  I want to ask, what is this word of his power?  I think that the answer is that the word of Christ's power is the gospel of his resurrection - the story of his making purification for sins and sitting down at God's right hand.  That doesn't make the verses less astonishing.  But the astonishment now is not that the God-man could uphold the universe with a word; it is that the universe depends for its existence on the word of the victory of Christ. It is not astonishing that Jesus could somehow uphold the universe with a word whilst he was incarnate; it is astonishing that the incarnation of the Son of God is precisely the word by which the universe is sustained.  This is just another way of saying that everything exists for him, through him, and in him.  The gospel is the innermost logic of creation; it is the reason anything is.

Which also means that I now tend to detect in Genesis 1 an echo of Hebrews, and of John 1, rather than vice versa.  Jesus is the beginning, the centre, and the end of everything that God has made.

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