Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Lord's Sigh

painting: "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt





Our Lord is often filled with lament. At a lepers confession Jesus is “moved with pity” (Mark 1:41). Upon entering Jerusalem he wept upon thinking of the fate of those who refuse him (Luke 19:41). There is anguish in his heart – a desire that all should come to him – an invitation that ultimately will be rejected by many. Jesus wept for Lazarus (Jn. 11:35), and lamented the deliverance from the pits of hell that was to take place in the great redemptive act (Eph. 5:7). Christ’s ministry does not proceed in isolated admonitions and miracle accounts but also involves an outpouring of sighs, laments, tears, and supplications. The Son of God who reveals the Father’s heart is wholly incapable of being emotionally disjointed from his creation, and each individual inhabitant. We might say his eyes are utterly consumed of grief (Ps. 6:7). Grief is borne out of God’s incarnation into the world to proclaim peace, but ultimately to be despised and rejected. He sighs and laments for his wayfaring creation and it weeps and laments back. In turn he incarnates that he might grant mercy to all that call upon his name. The calling, the waiting, the coming, the answering, and restoring – the great redemptive act does not move without great physical tremors. The communicative binding between God and man is a corporeal and audible cry. The death cry of Christ on the cross is itself a vehement shriek (krazo), an unintelligible disturbance that shakes the earth. The sum and substance of the lament is realized here at God’s shriek which answers the pain and groaning of all creation. The declarative cry of mercy is God’s eternal wail that not only identifies with creation but takes the place of every sinners cry. The atonement is not a silent phenomenon but an audible cracking and rupture. The forgiveness of sins and therefore life and salvation pour forth from this rupture. Christ’s continues his work in the church by the preaching of his Holy Gospel and by hearing and sharing every sigh of His beloved.

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