Our Longing for Greatness

A lion is admirable for its ferocious strength and imperial appearance. A lamb is admirable for its meekness and servant-like provision of wool for our clothing. But even more admirable is a lionlike lamb and a lamblike lion. What makes Christ glorious, as Jonathan Edwards observed over 250 years ago, is “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”

For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.

The glory of Christ is not a simple thing. It is a coming together in one person of extremely diverse qualities.

This glorious conjunction [of diverse excellencies in Christ] shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness and our longing for greatness. . . . The lamblike gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness. And we love him for it. . . .

But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious. The gentleness and humility of the lamblike Lion becomes brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lionlike Lamb. Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden. But there burns in every heart, at least from time to time, a dream that our lives will count for something great. . . .

The lionlike Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality. And he reminds us that, in all that authority, he will be with us to the end of the age. This is what we long for — a champion, an invincible leader. We mere mortals are not simple either. We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions. We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders. We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts. The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity. (31–32)

Brothers and sisters, Jesus holds it all together: he is Lord of heaven and earth, the first creation and new creation, the present and the future, all of history and the smallest details of your life. In him is full undiminished divinity and true uncompromised humanity. He is a lionlike lamb and lamblike lion. He is Lord of all time and space, Savior of his chosen people, and the supreme treasure who “corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness and our longing for greatness.”

D. Mathis

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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