Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Instrument of Death Is Now the Symbol of Glory and Dominion

Come now, when you read in the words of David, how that “the Lord reigns from the tree,”* I want to know what you understand by it.  Perhaps you think some wooden king of the Jews is meant!—and not Christ, who overcame death by His suffering on the cross, and thence reigned!  Now, although death reigned from Adam even to Christ, why may not Christ be said to have reigned from the tree, from His having shut up the kingdom of death by dying upon the tree of His cross?  Likewise Isaiah also says: “For unto us a child is born.”  But what is there unusual in this, unless he speaks of the Son of God?  “To us is given He whose government is upon His shoulder.”  Now, what king is there who bears the ensign of his dominion upon his shoulder, and not rather upon his head as a diadem, or in his hand as a scepter, or else as a mark in some royal apparel?  But the one new King of the new ages, Jesus Christ, carried on His shoulder both the power and the excellence of His new glory, even His cross; so that, according to our former prophecy, He might thenceforth reign from the tree as Lord.  This tree it is which Jeremiah likewise gives you intimation of, when he prophesies to the Jews, who should say, “Come, let us destroy the tree with the fruit, (the bread) thereof,”† that is, His body.  For so did God in your own gospel even reveal the sense, when He called His body bread; so that, for the time to come, you may understand that He has given to His body the figure of bread, whose body the prophet of old figuratively turned into bread, the Lord Himself designing to give by and by an interpretation of the mystery.  If you require still further prediction of the Lord’s cross, the twenty-second Psalm is sufficiently able to afford it to you, containing as it does the entire passion of Christ, who was even then prophetically declaring His glory.  “They pierced,” says He, “my hands and my feet,” which is the special cruelty of the cross.

Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.19

*  Psalm 96:10 (Old Latin Version, Dominus regnavit a ligno)
†  Jeremiah 11:19

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