Today’s post picks-up where last week’s post left off. I have been covering St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Letters, and we are now up to letter ten. This post covers the second half of that letter.
11. And He is called by two names, Jesus Christ; Jesus, because He saves,— Christ, because He is a Priest. And knowing this the inspired Prophet Moses conferred these two titles on two men distinguished above all : his own successor in the government, Auses , he renamed Jesus; and his own brother Aaron he surnamed Christ , that by two well-approved men he might represent at once both the High Priesthood, and the Kingship of the One Jesus Christ who was to come. For Christ is a High Priest like Aaron; since He glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest, but He that spoke unto Him, You are a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. And Jesus the son of Nave was in many things a type of Him. For when he began to rule over the people, he began from Jordan Joshua 3:1, whence Christ also, after He was baptized, began to preach the gospel. And the son of Nave appoints twelve to divide the inheritance ; and twelve Apostles Jesus sends forth, as heralds of the truth, into all the world. The typical Jesus saved Rahab the harlot when she believed: and the true Jesus says, Behold, the publicans and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. Matthew 21:31 With only a shout the walls of Jericho fell down in the time of the type: and because Jesus said, There shall not be left here one stone upon another Matthew 24:2, the Temple of the Jews opposite to us is fallen, the cause of its fall not being the denunciation but the sin of the transgressors.
12. There is One Lord Jesus Christ, a wondrous name, indirectly announced beforehand by the Prophets. For Esaias the Prophet says, Behold, your Saviour comes, having His own reward. Now Jesus in Hebrew is by interpretation Saviour. For the Prophetic gift, foreseeing the murderous spirit of the Jews against their Lord , veiled His name, lest from knowing it plainly beforehand they might plot against Him readily. But He was openly called Jesus not by men, but by an Angel, who came not by his own authority, but was sent by the power of God, and said to Joseph, Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife; for that which is con ceivedin her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. Matthew 1:20 And immediately he renders the reason of this name, saying, for He shall save His people from their sins. Consider how He who was not yet born could have a people, unless He was in being before He was born. This also the Prophet says in His person, From the bowels of my mother has He made mention of My name Isaiah 49:1; because the Angel foretold that He should be called Jesus. And again concerning Herod’s plot again he says, And under the shadow of His hand has He hid Me.
13. Jesus then means according to the HebrewSaviour,but in the Greek tongueThe Healer;since He is physician of souls and bodies, curer of spirits, curing the blind in body , and leading minds into light, healing the visibly lame, and guiding sinners’ steps to repentance, saying to the palsied, Sin no more, and, Take up your bed and walk. For since the body was palsied for the sin of the soul, He ministered first to the soul that He might extend the healing to the body. If, therefore, any one is suffering in soul from sins, there is the Physician for him: and if any one here is of little faith, let him say to Him, Help my unbelief. Mark 9:24 If any is encompassed also with bodily ailments, let him not be faithless, but let him draw near; for to such diseases also Jesus ministers , and let him learn that Jesus is the Christ.
14. For that He is Jesus the Jews allow, but not further that He is Christ. Therefore says the Apostle, Who is the liar, but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ 1 John 2:22? But Christ is a High Priest, whose priesthood passes not to another Hebrews 7:24, neither having begun His Priesthood in time , nor having any successor in His High-Priesthood: as you heard on the Lord’s day, when we were discoursing in the congregation on the phrase, After the Order of Melchizedek. He received not the High-Priesthood from bodily succession, nor was He anointed with oil prepared by man , but before all ages by the Father; and He so far excels the others as with an oath He is made Priest: For they are priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him that said, The Lord swore, and will not repent. Hebrews 7:21 The mere purpose of the Father was sufficient for surety: but the mode of assurance is twofold, namely that with the purpose there follows the oath also, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong encouragement for our faith, who receive Christ Jesus as the Son of God.
15. This Christ, when He had come, the Jews denied, but the devils confessed. But His forefather David was not ignorant of Him, when he said, I have ordained a lamp for mine Anointed : which lamp some have interpreted to be the brightness of Prophecy , others the flesh which He took upon Him from the Virgin, according to the Apostle’s word, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Prophet was not ignorant of Him, when He said, and announces unto men His Christ. Moses also knew Him, Isaiah knew Him, and Jeremiah; not one of the Prophets was ignorant of Him. Even devils recognised Him, for He rebuked them, and the Scripture says, because they knew that He was Christ. Luke 4:41 The Chief-priests knew Him not, and the devils confessed Him: the Chief Priests knew Him not, and a woman of Samaria proclaimed Him, saying, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ John 4:29?
16. This is Jesus Christ who came a High-Priest of the good things to come Hebrews 9:11; who for the bountifulness of His Godhead imparted His own title to us all. For kings among men have their royal style which others may not share: but Jesus Christ being the Son of God gave us the dignity of being called Christians. But some one will say, The name ofChristiansis new, and was not in use aforetime : and new-fashioned phrases are often objected to on the score of strangeness. The prophet made this point safe beforehand, saying, But upon My servants shall a new name be called, which shall be blessed upon the earth. Let us question the Jews: Are you servants of the Lord, or not? Show then your new name. For you were called Jews and Israelites in the time of Moses, and the other prophets, and after the return from Babylon, and up to the present time: where then is your new name? But we, since we are servants of the Lord, have that new name: new indeed, but the new name, which shall be blessed upon the earth. This name caught the world in its grasp: for Jews are only in a certain region, but Christians reach to the ends of the world: for it is the name of the Only-begotten Son of God that is proclaimed.
17. But would you know that the Apostles knew and preached the name of Christ, or rather had Christ Himself within them? Paul says to his hearers, Or seek a proof of Christ that speaks in me 2 Corinthians 13:3? Paul proclaims Christ, saying, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. Who then is this? The former persecutor. O mighty wonder! The former persecutor himself preaches Christ. But wherefore? Was he bribed? Nay there was none to use this mode of persuasion. But was it that he saw Him present on earth, and was abashed? He had already been taken up into heaven. He went forth to persecute, and after three days the persecutor is a preacher in Damascus. By what power? Others call friends as witnesses for friends but I have presented to you as a witness the former enemy: and do you still doubt? The testimony of Peter and John, though weighty, was yet of a kind open to suspicion: for they were His friends. But of one who was formerly his enemy, and afterwards dies for His sake, who can any longer doubt the truth?
18. At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers. For all were amazed at Paul, and said, Is not this he that was formerly a persecutor Acts 9:21? Did he not come hither, that he might lead us away bound to Jerusalem? Be not amazed, said Paul, I know that it is hard for me to kick against the pricks: I know that I am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God 1 Corinthians 15:9; but I did it in ignorance 1 Timothy 1:13: for I thought that the preaching of Christ was destruction of the Law, and knew not that He came Himself to fulfil the Law and not to destroy it. Matthew 5:17 But the grace of God was exceeding abundant in me 1 Timothy 1:14 .
19. Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness. Egypt bears witness, which received the Lord while yet young in the body : Symeon bears witness, who received Him in his arms, and said, Now, Lord, let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people. Luke 2:29-30 Anna also, the prophetess, a most devout widow, of austere life, bears witness of Him. John the Baptist bears witness, the greatest among the Prophets, and leader of the New Covenant, who in a manner united both Covenants in Himself, the Old and the New. Jordan is His witness among rivers; the sea of Tiberias among seas: blind and lame bear witness, and dead men raised to life, and devils saying, What have we to do with You, Jesus? We know You, who You are, the Holy One of God. Mark 1:24 Winds bear witness, silenced at His bidding: five loaves multiplied into five thousand bear Him witness. The holy wood of the Cross bears witness, seen among us to this day, and from this place now almost filling the whole world, by means of those who in faith take portions from it. The palm-tree on the ravine bears witness, having supplied the palm-branches to the children who then hailed Him. Gethsemane bears witness, still to the thoughtful almost showing Judas. Golgotha , the holy hill standing above us here, bears witness to our sight: the Holy Sepulchre bears witness, and the stone which lies there to this day. The sun now shining is His witness, which then at the time of His saving Passion was eclipsed : the darkness is His witness, which was then from the sixth hour to the ninth: the light bears witness, which shone forth from the ninth hour until evening. The Mount of Olives bears witness, that holy mount from which He ascended to the Father: the rain-bearing clouds are His witnesses, having received their Lord: yea, and the gates of heaven bear witness [having received their Lord ], concerning which the Psalmist said, Lift up your doors, O you Princes, and be lifted up you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. His former enemies bear witness, of whom the blessed Paul is one, having been a little while His enemy, but for a long time His servant: the Twelve Apostles are His witnesses, having preached the truth not only in words, but also by their own torments and deaths: the shadow of Peter Acts 5:15 bears witness, having healed the sick in the name of Christ. The handkerchiefs and aprons bear witness, as in like manner by Christ’s power they wrought cures of old through Paul. Persians and Goths , and all the Gentile converts bear witness, by dying for His sake, whom they never saw with eyes of flesh: the devils, who to this day are driven out by the faithful, bear witness to Him.
20. So many and diverse, yea and more than these, are His witnesses: is then the Christ thus witnessed any longer disbelieved? Nay rather if there is any one who formerly believed not, let him now believe: and if any was before a believer, let him receive a greater increase of faith, by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ, and let him understand whose name he bears. You are called a Christian: be tender of the name; let not our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, be blasphemed through you: but rather let your good works shine before men Matthew 5:16 that they who see them may in Christ Jesus our Lord glorify the Father which is in heaven: To whom be the glory, both now and for ever and ever. Amen.