October 11 – Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week after Pentecost (4th of Luke) Luke 8:22-25
The Lord Who Shows Us Light – Two Natures: Luke 8:22-25, especially vs. 25: “And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who can this be?’” For the next three days, our Gospel readings concern the struggle to comprehend the nature and Person of our Lord Jesus. The question asked by Jesus’ disciples (“Who can this be?”) invites honest exploration. The Church in her dogmas provides clear answers, as do Jesus’ actions as disclosed in the two subsequent Gospel passages in this series.
Let us begin by considering Christ Jesus’ dual nature as God and man. The Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in Chalcedon in AD 451, declared that “our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that He is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood . . . unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, distinctly.”
In this Gospel passage, Saint Luke points to the duality of natures in the single Person of the Lord. Christ Jesus reveals His human nature when “as they sailed He fell asleep” (vs. 23) as a weary man. On the other hand, He dramatically reveals His divinity when He is roused from sleep! He “rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm” (vs. 24).
The man knew fatigue, while the Incarnate God was entirely in command of nature. Christ is He “who establisheth the earth” and “the abyss like a garment,” at whose “rebuke they will flee” and at whose voice “shall they be afraid” (Ps 103:6-8).
Why did the Lord Jesus become a man, assuming the physical, psychological, and spiritual limits of our human nature from the Theotokos? He desired to join our nature to the Godhead, for we were created for such a union from the beginning, before the fall of Adam. We see evidence of Christ’s humanity present in all four Gospels, whether He is resting at Jacob’s well in Samaria (Jn 4:6), or sleeping on a pillow in the stern of the boat (Mk 4:38), lulled by the waves.
The Church Fathers stress the importance of the divine economy of God – the Word fully assuming human nature. The Nicene Creed states: “For us and for our salvation [He] came down from heaven, and was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” His descent from heaven, the overshadowing of the Virgin Mary by the Spirit, and her cooperation in bearing and rearing Jesus to manhood, were all “for our salvation.”
According to Saint Maximos the Confessor, “If the divine Logos of God the Father became son of man and man so that He might make men gods and the sons of God, let us believe that we shall reach the realm where Christ Himself now is; for He is the head of the whole body (Col 1:18), and endued with our humanity has gone to the Father as forerunner on our behalf. God will stand ‘in the congregation of the gods’ (Ps 81:1)” (Philokalia vol. 2, p. 143).
We acknowledge “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God . . . by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him” (Acts 2:22) as our immortal God. We find in our Scripture reading a verbal icon of this truth in the rebuking of the wind and raging water. It illustrates what the Creed states dogmatically.
Christ is “Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made; of one essence with the Father.” Yes, God in the flesh, with only a word, manages the elements, as we read in the Psalms: “Wonderful are the surgings of the sea, wonderful on high is the Lord. Thy testimonies are made very sure” (Ps 92:6-7).
What shall we render to Thee, O Christ, for that Thou didst appear on earth as a man for our sake? Wherefore, O God before the ages, have mercy upon us. – Vespers of the Nativity