Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Chief of Ten Thousand


Something I've been enjoying.

I sing "you're altogether lovely..." not realising I'm quoting from The Song of Songs. From a poem, like Revelation 1, that gives a detailed description of the Christ. Sibbes advises that we note the attention to detail. Are we as attentive? He is the chief of ten thousand. A poetic way of saying, he's the best of us.

I sing "beautiful one..." not realising I'm invoking Psalm 45:2, The Song in miniature. Spurgeon: "the Psalmist adores the matchless beauty of Messiah." In the Psalm, the description is: you are the most handsome of the sons of men.
yaf yafita ben adam

The beautiful beautiful of Adam's sons. Of Adam's helpless race and yet is most unlike Adam. Very much one of us, very much unlike us. The second Adam who can bring life to many. A new head of a new family. Both songs speak of royal husbands, and can be rightly understood to tell of Christ.

He is son of Adam and yet son of God (Lk3), a claim tested by genealogy and the wilderness. And when he stands in the synagogue and says he is the anointed one (Psalm 45:7-8) they dismiss him merely as Adam's son... yet this is the truly inheriting son killed in the vineyard (Lk20), who can teach us to pray to his Father as our Father (Lk11), abandoned by his father (Lk23) so that all the nations of the world might enter into his anointing, through death to resurrection and be covered in the very same anointing (Acts).

Jesus stands as the firstborn. Not born first but born to inherit. The very best of the flock. He is the one who can be (and was!) offered as our representative and substitute, paying the price for us. And, in resurrection, can become our new living head, our beloved who loves us.
"David manifested his love to Absalom, in wishing, "O that I had died for you!" Christ manifested his love to us, not in wishes that he had died, but in death itself, in our stead, and for our sakes." Flavel
Life has questions to be answered. What about the pain? What about hope? And many many more as we try to live in the middle of all that we're surrounded by. History demands that I face the question: what about Jesus? The man at the centre of all history, of arts and sciences, of politics and personal life.

He is widely considered as the best of us. The best man to have lived.
"As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet." Flavel.
 Looking at him gets me out of my own head and out of my own heart. I find self-forgetfulness when I see Jesus...
The bride eyes not her garment,  But her dear Bridegroom’s face;" (Anne Cousin)
And I find him to be the best not chiefly as our example as many seem to think, but as our substitute and our representative and our champion. He took my place, did what I can't do, won where I won't win. And not just for me but for all kinds of people.

His is no victory of force and power, he wins by the marring of his beauty, by his death and rising. Supreme in his weakness and brokenness. Because true glory is vulnerable, it goes out of itself and gives itself up.
"We think Jesus "altogether lovely" even in poverty, or when hanging naked on the cross, deserted and condemned. We see unspeakable beauty in Jesus in the grave, all fair with the pallor of death. Jesus bruised as to his heel by the old serpent is yet comely... We adore him anywhere and everywhere, and in any place, for we know that this same Christ whose heel is bruised breaks also the serpent's head, and he who was naked for our sakes, is now arrayed in glory." Spurgeon
See Jesus. See the beautiful one in the horror of the cross, see he who is altogether lovely as he pours himself out for you. My hope is to have been able to praise him to you.

Photo by Anna Hopkins used by permission, with effects in Pixlr-o-matic.