I hope that you are enjoying our foray through pieces of Thomas Aquinas’ Shorter Summa, this version being translated by Cyril Volkert, S.J. – this present post being the sixth in our examination.
The need for Christ actually began in the Garden of Eden…
Aquinas’ sets the stage: …man was originally constituted by God in such a condition that his body was completely subject to his soul.
Adam’s soul was a pure image of God, and thus his body was incorruptible – innocent before God, living in a harmony given by God. Aquinas’ refers to Adam’s state at this juncture, as ‘Original Justice,’ and it was to be promulgated through his successive descendants.
This however, was entirely contingent upon humanity’s continual obedience to God.
When Adam and Even broached God’s commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit, they transgressed the purpose of the prohibition, which was to remain obedient to God. The fruit itself was just the symbol of obedience, as long as it remained uneaten.
The affixed outcome was that our first parents were both exposed to evil and generated it themselves through their actions.
Satan was the agent behind their downfall. He, who had already succumbed to sin, was jealous of the high position that God held Adam and Eve in – whereby they possessed ultimate love, peace, happiness and immorality. But the devil also knew that they had been given free will. Thus, they had the potential to sin. Knowing this, Satan made preparations to thrust a spiritual dagger into God’s heart.
He promised Eve great, heretofore unknown, knowledge that would place her on a high station – supposedly level with God Himself. She then succumbed to her pride and covetousness, and fell under his sway.
Adam did not have the luxury of feigning ignorance. He was intimately acquainted with God and His dictates. He purposely transgressed them to feed his pride and covetousness as well.
In the very moment that they disobeyed God, their flesh was cut loose from the perfection of their soul and became corruptible, beginning the battle between the flesh and the spirit – ultimately resulting in death.
Moreover, they were separated from God and became more vulnerable to the devil’s suggestions.
All of these traits were handed down to all of us, and sin became rampant. Gone was the blessing of ‘Original Justice’ – replaced by the corruption of the ‘Original Sin.’
Unlike other sins, this original sin cannot be removed by man alone, regardless of the vigor of his repentance.
Yet God loves us so much that He made a way for our redemption, so that we may be reunited with Him. First, because God is just, He must mete out justice for sin. Someone had to pay for our sins. And so, God sent a part of Himself in His Son for HIs children’s justification and redemption:
No one has gone up to heaven, but there is One who came down from heaven, the Son of Man [Himself – whose home is in heaven]…so must the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life [after physical death, and will actually live forever]. For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]… Jn. 3:13 – 18. AMP
Aquinas adds this: …divine Wisdom, who had made man, took to Himself a bodily nature and visited man immersed in things of the body, so that by the mysteries of His bodily life He might recall man to spiritual life. Furthermore, the human race had need that God should become man to show forth the dignity of human nature, so that man might not be subjugated either by devils or by things of the body.
Jesus is our ideal example of everything God meant us to be.
That Christ took upon Himself our likeness is born out in the demonstration of His having had a soul, which displayed human-like moments of fear and sadness:
He was hated and men would have nothing to do with Him, a man of sorrows and suffering, knowing sadness well. Is. 53:3 NKJV
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Jn. 12:37 NKJV
And yet Jesus is unique, because He possesses a soul, body and is part of the Godhead, (His divinity). He came to make us (those who willing choose to be) one with Him, through His salvation. God imputed to Jesus His divinity, whereas Mary imparted His human nature.
We see the divinity expressed in Christ through His miracles and His omniscience. Remember that Jesus is the Word of God:
For the word of God is living and powerful…and is a discerner or the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb. 4:12, 13. NKJV
In His humanness, Jesus had to be the perfect sinless Man, to be suitable as the Source of our salvation:
He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness]. 2 Cor. 5:21 AMP
His divinity also conferred upon Him His veracious wisdom and the grace of His Father, to make us pleasing to God, as well as to be unified with Him.
…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:24 NLT
…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God]. Col. 2:2, 3. AMP
Going back to the fact that Jesus had to be sinless, He would have to be free of the ‘Original Sin’ as well. And that original sin was passed down to us by the seed of Adam through the seeds of all men:
…through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation… Rm. 5:18 NKJV
Therefore, Christ could not appropriate any flesh instigated by the corrupt seed of man. Thus, God, who is the creator of all nature, supernaturally appropriated Jesus’ flesh through the Holy Spirit. As well, that flesh had to be appropriated from a woman, as she is the flesh-giver in maternity. And not just any woman, but one untainted by the male seed – a virgin – energized to conceive by the Holy Spirit:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son… Is. 7:14 NKJV
In order for Mary to be the perfect vessel for Christ, she herself would have to have been sanctified before the Holy Spirit stirred her flesh to bring forth life. Aquinas asserts that she must have been sanctified when she was in the womb, similarly to the prophet Jeremiah, which God revealed to him when He called Jeremiah to preach:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…” Jer. 1:5 NKJV
God is ultimate justice. His charge against man demands ultimate and pure justifying satisfaction. That can only be satisfied by the sacrifice of one on His level, and there is only one – Jesus. God had to offer a part of Himself (Christ) to exact payment. Jesus willingly took on a mortal body to do so – to become potentially ‘sin-like’ (yet sinless):
There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death…by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us… Rm. 8:1 – 4. ESV
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us… Gal. 3:13 NKJV
Jesus stepped up to endure the sufferings that we rightly should have to endure – even death, though He Himself was faultless. He chose to die so that we might live a godly life, and to show us that there need be no fear in dying, because He’ll be waiting.
Adam sinned at the tree, Jesus was hung on one. When He died, His body-soul connection was severed; His body was indeed dead. However, both were still connected to the Spirit of Christ. Jesus’s soul then descended into hell:
“…so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mt. 12:40 NKJV
Aquinas states that Jesus was freeing all the people in hell that were there solely because of the stain of the ‘original sin’ – establishing Him as the Savior of the living and the dead.
Christ was risen glorified and immortal. His sufferings brought us grace which means the atonement of sins for those who accept Him as their Savior.
Our glorified Savior showed Himself to many after His resurrection, where He was seen, touched, conversed with, shared meals with, passing through walls, and brandishing the scars of His impalement upon the cross.
What Christ’s followers gain, is freedom from the first death (body-soul separation) and from the second (separation from God, which is solely for those who refused Christ). Thus, we get both a physical and spiritual resurrection from the gift of Christ’s life, given for us, rendering us justified and sanctified.
Jesus is a lot bigger than we think:
“No one has gone up into heaven, but there is One who came down from heaven, the Son of Man [Himself – whose home is in heaven].” Jn. 3:13 AMP
Christ is like His Father, ever-present, everywhere. He was in heaven, hell and on the earth simultaneously.
At the end of time, all peoples are brought before the judgment seat of Christ – whose authority to judge is given by God:
“…He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is a Son of Man [sinless humanity, qualifying Him to sit in judgment over mankind].” Jn. 5:27 AMP
Christ will appear in all His glory – a joy to His saints, a harbinger of dread to those that rebelled against Him. Everyone will answer for how they conducted their lives. Those who lived a life of faith will be with Jesus, rewarded for how they advanced the kingdom. The faithless will be sifted out for eternal punishment – never to see God, Jesus, or any goodness forever.
Jesus is with us in every aspect of our lives. All the good is found in Him. We need Christ…
Goodnight and God bless.