Devotional Word for Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Questions 48 and 49 of the Heidelberg Catechism are on topics Christians do not often think about. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at them. Quite the contrary. These two questions help us more fully think through who our Lord and Savior is. Further, both questions help Christians abandon the unscriptural practice of seeking to make ourselves like Jesus. To be clear, there are many ways in which we SHOULD try to be like Jesus. After all, He always in every circumstance did what was pleasing to His heavenly Father. While we are unable to perfectly obey the Lord, in light of the saving work of Christ, we should follow His example walking in all the good deeds our heavenly Father has prepared for us. However, the phrase WWJD (remember that is What Would Jesus Do?) should not be our number one guiding principle in life. Let me give you a silly for instance. If you and your friends are looking for something to eat and just had a meager supply of food, a strict adherence to the WWJD principle would lead you to attempt to multiply the food until there was enough for all with baskets left over. I think we can all agree that this would not be a fruitful (pun intended) strategy.
What about Question 48? Well, remember that in the catechism we have been looking at Jesus’ ascension. Last time we acknowledged that while the Lord Jesus is not with us physically, His divinity is. This leads to the question 48 which asks, “But are not the two natures in Christ separated from each other in this way, if the humanity is not wherever the divinity is?” At first this is a weird question. Remember that Jesus is truly God and truly man. Note that insofar as Jesus is truly God, He shares the attributes of God such as omniscience (He knows everything), omnipotence (He is all powerful), and omnipresence (He is everywhere). The catechism is asking how the Lord Jesus can be with us by virtue of His omnipresence and still be in heaven by virtue of His humanity which has ascended to heaven. The answer replies, “Not at all; for since divinity is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that the divinity is indeed beyond the bounds of the humanity which it has assumed, and is nonetheless ever in that humanity as well, and remains personally united to it.” In short, because God is everywhere, with respect to His divinity the Lord Jesus is everywhere. He is necessarily so. He is also united to the body He assumed. That means that He is both in heaven bodily and with us divinely.
As we try to wrap our heads around that question and answer and begin to even wonder if it is worth it to try to understand, question 49 comes to our rescue. It asks, “What benefit do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?” Listen to the answer. It says, “First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven. Second, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. Third, that He sends us His Spirit as a counterpledge by whose power we seek what is above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God, and not things that are on earth.” There are three benefits of Christ’s ascension. The first is that is interceding on our behalf with our heavenly Father. Second, as Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven so too will we go to be with the Lord. Finally, as Christ ascended, He sent His Holy Spirit who comes into the hearts of believers guiding them and directing them to the Lord.
I began by saying that these two questions in the Heidelberg Catechism help us to reflect upon who Jesus is and what He has done. Further as we look to the continuing work of our faithful savior Jesus Christ, it leads us not as much to ask WWJD but simply to bow before Him in worship. Let us pray.