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Where is Christ, as man?

I suppose I’ve already posted enough on the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Table, but at the risk of beating a dead horse, here is one more.

We know that Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, was, and remains, both God and man. These two natures, divine and human, are complete—that is, he is not half-God and half-man, but fully God and fully man. Consequently, his two natures cannot be divided. Therefore, the issue of the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Table can be put to rest by the answer to one question:


But where is Christ, as man? That is the point. Where is the body that was born of the Virgin Mary? Where is the head that was crowned with thorns? Where are the hands that were nailed to the cross, and the feet that walked by the sea of Galilee? Where are the eyes that wept tears at the grave of Lazarus? Where is the side that was pierced with a spear? Where is the ‘visage that was marred more than any man, and the form more than the sons of men’? (Isa. 52:14). Where, in a word, is the man Christ Jesus? That is the question.

I answer in the words of Scripture, that ‘Christ is passed into the heavens’,—that he ‘has entered into the holy place,’ that,—’He has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us’,—and that ‘the heavens must receive him until the time of restitution of all things’ (Heb. 4:14; 9:12–24; Acts 3:21).

Let us mark this well. Christ, as man, is in heaven, and not in the grave. . . . If ever there was a fact proved by unanswerable evidence in this world, it is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead!—That he died on a Friday, is certain. That he was buried in a sepulchre hewn out of rock that night, is certain. That the stone over the place was sealed, and a guard of soldiers set around it, is certain. That the grave was opened and the body gone on Sunday morning, is certain. That the soldiers could give no account of it, is certain. That the disciples themselves could hardly believe that their Master had risen, is certain. That after seeing him several times for forty days, they at last were convinced, is certain. That, once convinced, they never ceased to teach and hold, even to death, that their Master had risen, is certain. That the unbelieving Jews could neither shake the disciples out of their belief, nor show Christ’s dead body, nor give any satisfactory account of what had become of it, is equally certain. All this is certain, certain, certain! The resurrection of Christ is a great, unanswerable, undeniable fact. There are none so blind as those that will not see.

Once more let us mark this point. Christ, as man, is in heaven and not on the Communion Table, at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. He is not present at that holy sacrament under the form of bread and wine, as the Roman Catholics, and some Anglicans, say. The consecrated bread is not the body of Christ, and the consecrated wine is not the blood of Christ. Those sacred elements are the emblem of something absent, and not of something present. The words of the Prayer-book state this fact with unmistakable clearness:

The sacramental bread and wine remain still in their very natural substance, and therefore may not be adored (for that were idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians); and the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven and not here, it being against the truth of Christ’s natural body to be at one time in more places than one.—Rubric at the end of the Communion Service.

Let these things sink down into our hearts. It is a point of vast importance in this day, to see clearly where Christ’s natural body and blood are. Right knowledge of this point may save our souls from many ruinous errors.

Let us not be moved, for a moment, by the infidel, when he sneers at miracles, and tries to persuade us that a religion based on miracles cannot be true. . . . Ask him to grapple, like a man, with the greatest miracle of all,—the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Ask him to explain away the evidence of that miracle, if he can. Remind him that, long before he died, Jesus Christ staked the truth of his Messiahship on his resurrection, and told the Jews not to believe him if he did not rise from the dead. Remind him that the Jews remembered this, and did all they could to prevent any removal of our Lord’s body, but in vain. Tell him, finally, that when he has overthrown the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, it will be time to listen to his argument against miracles in general, but not till then. The man Christ Jesus is in heaven, and not on earth. The mere fact that his natural body and blood are in heaven, is one among many proofs of the truth of Christianity.

Let us not be moved by the Roman Catholic, any more than by the infidel. Let us not listen to his favourite doctrine of Christ’s body and blood being ‘really present’ in the elements of bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. It is his common argument that we should believe the doctrine, though we cannot understand it; and that it is a pleasant, comfortable, and reverent thought, that Christ’s natural body and blood are in the bread and wine in some mysterious way, though we know not how. Let us beware of the argument. It is not only without foundation of Scripture, but full of dangerous heresy. Let us stand fast on the old doctrine, that Christ’s natural body and blood ‘cannot be in more places than one at one time.’ Let us maintain firmly that Christ’s human nature is like our own, sin only excepted, and cannot therefore be at once in heaven and on the Communion Table. He that overthrows the doctrine of Christ’s real, true, and proper humanity, is no friend to the Gospel, any more than he that denies his divinity. Tell me that my Lord is not really man, and you rob me of one half of my soul’s comfort. Tell me that his body can be on earth and yet in heaven at the same time, and you tell me that he is not man. Let us resist this mischievous doctrine. Christ, as man, is in heaven, and in heaven alone.

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 247–272, 275.

Posted 2017·06·08 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christology · J C Ryle · Knots Untied · Lord’s Table

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