Te Deum – Part 5

Te Deum – Part 5

Te Deum – Part 5.

… You, Christ, are the King of Glory,

the eternal Son of the Father.

When you became man to set us free,

You did not shun the Virgin’s womb.” 

You, Christ, are the King of Glory. This declarative profession of faith in the Te Deum is a direct answer to the rhetorical question asked in Psalm 24: “Who is the King of Glory?” This triumphant psalm has been sung in the Christian Church on Ascension Sunday for centuries, and for good reason. Picture the scene at heaven’s throne room. The victorious Jesus has just ascended from the earth and is now being welcomed into heaven. He is still bearing scars on His glorified body that exhibit His suffering and sacrifice. He has conquered death and defeated Satan. He has removed the penalty of sin. And He has prepared the way for His Holy Spirit to enable His followers to continue His work on earth. Jesus is now ready to assume His rightful place at the right hand of God. The angels now sing in celebration as the Lord Jesus approaches heaven’s Holy of Holies. The doors to the royal court stand ready for the grand entrance as the Son of God returns from His mission in triumph. “This King of Glory comes to the entrance of heaven with the blood of the conflict still fresh upon Him, and a kind of dialogue takes place as the angels call for the opening of the portcullis at the approach of the returning Warrior.” (Patrick Reardon, Christ in the Psalms). We of course can’t be eye witnesses to this unspeakable event, this breath-taking moment in history. But we can imagine the joyous chant of the angels as they sing, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates. And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle… Lift up your heads, O ye gates! Lift up your everlasting doors. And the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10).

The eternal Son of the Father. Can there be a deeper mystery than the boundless intimacy between God the Father and God the Son? “The secret of the whole world of humanity is the love between the Father and the Son. That is at the root of it all. Upon the love between the Son and the Father hangs the whole universe.” (George MacDonald, Knowing the Risen Lord.). Through His imbedded spiritual intuition, Jesus was profoundly aware of His Abba Father right from the start, of course. We know that at twelve years old in Jerusalem He knew He needed to be “in His Father’s house.” (Luke 2:49). And we know He received His Father’s blessing at His baptism, in which His Father embraced Him with the words, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:22). When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He instructed them to start by addressing God as Father, a Greek translation of His Aramaic term Abba. (Matthew 6:9). And we can’t forget the poignancy of Jesus’ most desperate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He addressed God as “Abba, Father,” asking Him to take away the cup of suffering from Him. Jesus closed His agonizing prayer with the heartfelt words of the obedient Son, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:36). We get strong hints like this of their uniquely intimate relationship all through the Gospels. Indeed, “No one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son.” (Matt. 11:27). Only Jesus truly knows the Father’s motives, His intentions, His character, His reasoning, the mystery of His innermost Being. Jesus knows the Father, and their shared limitless love is somehow the engine of the world.

When you became man to set us free.  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14, MSG). “And now out of His fullness we are fulfilled! And from Him we receive grace heaped upon more grace! Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus, the Anointed One, unveils truth wrapped in tender mercy. No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor except the uniquely beloved Son, who is cherished by the Father and held close to His heart. Now He has unfolded to us the full explanation of who God truly is!” (John 1:16-18, TPT). “He existed in the form of God, yet He gave no thought to seizing equality with God as His supreme prize. Instead He emptied Himself of His outward glory by reducing Himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled Himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man, and was obedient.” (Philippians 2:5-8, TPT). “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22, NIV).  “It’s for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV). “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

You did not shun the Virgin’s womb. When the Son of God emptied Himself and became flesh and blood, He embraced everything common to humanity, except sin. What a mystery, that He volunteered to become a fertilized egg, conceived by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of an unknown, young Jewish woman, probably no older than a teenager. Jesus submitted to the human process of early fetal development, an unborn child growing in the hidden darkness of a faithful girl’s womb. This is God submitting to the status of a fetus! The Son of God agreed to become connected to His young mother by a slender umbilical cord, and tenderly cared for in utero till the time of birth. Jesus didn’t shy from any of this human development, at the delicate and vulnerable stages of pregnancy. God trusted the Virgin Mary to care responsibly for the unborn Son of God! The humility of God to submit to this process is mysterious and unthinkable. Yet it’s true. Then the Lord Jesus embraced the natural event of being born, and crying as He gulped His first breath, and the immediate need for a diaper change. All of it is unfathomable. It’s impossible to fully imagine God as a fertilized egg, then a fetus, then a fully formed unborn baby, then a delivered infant. He was somehow God during these stages in the womb! In His preincarnate status in heaven, Jesus somehow considered all of this, and accepted His mission. He was humble enough to accept the Virgin’s womb. The mystery of the Incarnation is well beyond our reach, beyond our wildest imagination. Jesus didn’t shun the womb, and years later He didn’t shun the Cross, either.

Te Deum -W. A. Mozart – YouTube