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Sunday, February 20, 2005
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Of course this message is difficult to speak. Neither Paul nor Timothy were anywhere to be found at the dawn of the world. Nevertheless Paul says unequivocally that Jesus was an agent of creation. He knows this through his "appearing".
I get the idea from passages in Acts about Paul's early days as a Christ-follower that he experienced intense communion with the risen Jesus. After those early years Paul never spoke tentatively about what he knew.
Not only is he certain of Jesus' immortality; he is also convinced of our own. Christ has conquered death, so God can remove the guardian angels from the gates of Eden. No more flaming sword, no more need to protect us from the tree of life. Jesus invites us to eat. He is truth. He is life. We are expected to eat. As we partake of "his body and blood" we receive life that lasts forever.
St. John Chrysostom, fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople (Istanbul), wrote in his commentary on this passage, "There is nothing worse than that man should measure and judge of divine things by human reasonings." He likened the result to looking at the sun with bare eyes and achieving only blindness.*
Before his conversion Paul found the claims of Jesus' disciples outrageous, irrational and offensive. But after his own encounter with Jesus, during which he was blinded for three days, he put his reasoning on the shelf, opened his mind and simply asked God to fill it. He asks the same of Timothy, and of us.
Holy Spirit, empty me of ego and false knowledge, and fill me with the stuff of grace, peace and eternal life.