As we begin the Advent season once again, we return to our custom of using the Definition of Chalcedon for our Creed during the service. This definition focuses almost entirely on the two natures of Christ, that Jesus was one person who was both entirely God and entirely man. This is what we call the incarnation, God taking on flesh and becoming a true man. And while this might seem somewhat arcane, it is actually right at the heart of the Christian faith.
Is the Christian faith a religion of do-gooding or a religion of grace? Are we trying to be good enough to go to heaven when we die? Or is no man good enough, and are we utterly dependent on God’s grace and mercy to save us? The reason the Definition of Chalcedon insists that Jesus is a true man with two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation is because Jesus embodies the answer to our questions.
Every one of us is naturally predisposed to think well of ourselves. We lie to ourselves and to others; we spin everything to generally defend ourselves, to make ourselves look good and seem better than we really are. So God sent Jesus to show us what a good man really looks like. He never lied. He never lusted. He never lost his temper. He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet He was without sin. Christ reveals to us what we are really like. To know Christ is to know how evil we really are, how far short we fall of holiness.
And yet, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. To know Christ is to know how evil you really are, and yet in the same moment to know Him is to know Him as the one who died in the place of sinners. To know Him is to know God’s justice has been satisfied on the cross, and to know Him is to know His grace, mercy, love for sinners.
So as we recite the Definition of Chalcedon, hear the precision of the Creed as the wonderful precision of grace.