“See the place where they laid Him”

We blogged about the excavation of what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  When the marble cladding was removed over the place where the body would have been laid, there was a layer of debris.  Under that was another marble covering.  The researchers removed that, exposing the original limestone burial slab.

The researchers only had permission to study the slab for a short time, but they collected and recorded all the data they could.  They continue to study the rest of the tomb.  They have determined that the site, which also encloses six other rock tombs, was, in fact, a Jewish cemetery at the time of Jesus.

After the jump, read the latest details.  And click the link for PICTURES.  (They are copyrighted by National Geographic, so I’d better not copy them here.)
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How can God love the world?

We often speak of God’s presence in vocation, of His providential “providing” for His creation, of His care for non-believers as well as believers, and other manifestations of God’s love for the world.  But how is that possible?  The world is fallen.  God is holy.  Holiness cannot abide sin.  So how is it that God can love the world?

David Scaer gives a startling answer in his book Law and Gospel and the Means of Grace. [Read more…]

The Reformation as a restoration of catholicity

Even some Protestants are saying that we shouldn’t celebrate Reformation Day.  Why celebrate the breakup of the catholicity of the Church?  In his excellent Reformation Sunday sermon, our pastor quoted the distinguished seminary professor and theologian Norman Nagel, who maintained that the Reformation was actually a restoration of the Church’s catholicity.

Read why after the jump.

UPDATE:  Dr. Nagel made a rare mistake in crediting Irenaeus for the quotation when it should have been St. Ignatius of Antioch.  (HT:  Steve)

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Excavating the empty tomb

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is traditionally considered to be the site of Christ’s tomb from which He rose from the dead.  That claim is actually well-attested by historians.

In the course of a restoration project in the church, workers have removed the marble covering that had been installed in 1555 over the place where Jesus’s body supposedly had been laid.  They found a rock surface that is apparently the “burial shelf” that is a feature of ancient Jewish tombs.  Archaeologists plan to excavate the site.

Some of the evidence that supports the church as the site of Christ’s tomb is that the building, erected over an ancient stone quarry, has been found to enclose other tombs of the period.  This one is empty.

Details after the jump, with pictures at the link. [Read more…]

This incarnate and human God

When we think of God, we often think of Him as a transcendent being, far above and beyond this world.  This would be the case whether we were mystics, Deists, or philosophers.  Or, we might think of Him as a being who dwells within us.  Or as a being who is both transcendent and indwelling.

Certainly, Christianity teaches both the transcendence and the immanence of God.  But this, while true, is not enough, and what Christianity teaches about God goes further:  God is incarnate.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, God made tangible, God as a human being, God revealing Himself to us in the only way we can truly understand, God for us.

In one of his most striking passages, Luther warns about trying to contemplate God as an abstraction or in His glory apart from Christ.  If we try to think of God apart from Christ, Luther writes, He will be “intolerable.”  Rather, particularly when we think of our salvation, “We must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.”

Read what Luther says about this after the jump. [Read more…]

He is the priest, He is the Samaritan, He is the robber

A few weeks ago, our pastor (and son-in-law) was preaching about the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He developed the idea that this parable gives us a picture of love, which is what the Law looks like in practice.  And because Jesus fulfills the law, all acts of righteousness–that is, all acts of love–look like Him.

He then applied this back to the parable in a startling way. [Read more…]