"For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."
Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
HE MOST AMAZING THING we could hear from Christ, the Holy One of God,
the only Son, is, “For them I sanctify myself.” We know from the angel who
brought good news that the one born of the Holy Virgin Mary was called “the Holy One
of God.”1 What is even more amazing is that his entire life on earth was revealed to be
holy and without blame. His enemies lurked, closely observing his life to find something
with which they could accuse him, but even them he silenced when he said, “Can any of
you prove me guilty of sin,”2 if only just one?! The life of Christ was closely observed
by enemies, and he knew himself very well. He did not say this to justify himself, for he
is the righteous one who justifies many, rather, the intent and purpose was the life of
those who believe in him. In order for them to be sanctified and without blame he first
sanctified himself, pure from any blame. So there would be no stumbling from his teaching, he presented a living model of holiness and the highest righteousness, so that
they would conduct themselves as he did.
Christ, as a teacher of righteousness, practiced righteousness and holiness to
perfection before he taught them. Here, in an expression of utter humility, he says for
the sake of those who believe in him that he sanctifies himself before the Father, so they
also might be sanctified in the truth. Christ had previously said with all clarity, “I am …
the truth.”3 “Truth” here is a characteristic of a judge, and Christ is the teacher of truth
and the judge of truth. That is, when believers appear before God they are counted holy
by the truth.
In this request, or demonstration of the situation Christ presents to the Father and
puts before the disciples, what so powerfully attracts our attention is that Christ declares
a hidden theological fact. This fact is that he presents his disciples to the Father in order
for them to be on the same level as Christ in truth, holiness and righteousness, and this is
what the disciples received from Christ in his example and teaching. Here we find
before us a public demonstration of Christ’s preaching, teaching and testimony, and all
of it enunciates that Christ is the Holy One of the holy ones. He gave and taught
holiness to his disciples, and he requested it from the Father so they would be on his
level. This theological fact baffles the mind. We ask ourselves, ‘Who is this teacher and
what is this teaching?’ It is more than giving and receiving, though so much was given,
a theology clear as crystal and teaching that raises man into the presence of God.
Holiness was Christ’s curriculum. It was the core of how he guided and what he
passed on. Moreover, it was the source of his happiness and joy that he had disciples
who were on the level of what is holy and righteous.
Come with me and take a deep and piercing look. Do you not see that Christ, before
he rose to heaven, made certain he had on earth christs4 on his same level in teaching,
instruction and in passing it on?
July 28, 2005
3 John 14:6.
4 In the teaching of the church each one baptized and anointed with chrism (holy oil) is given the title of ‘an
1 See Luke 1:35.
2 John 8:46.
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