What is this sight, O Master?

An icon of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

An icon of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Cross-Theotokion

‘WHAT is this sight, O Master, which is beheld by mine eyes? Shalt thou be hanged upon a tree, who holdeth all creation together? Shalt thou die, who feedeth all with life?’ would the weeping Theotokos say, as she watched him hanging upon the Cross, who had shone forth from her in a manner beyond telling, both God and man.

Vespers, September 28. Source.

**

LET the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Isaiah 55:7-13 (KJV). Source.

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3 thoughts on “What is this sight, O Master?

  1. I just noticed…the “it” in the Isaiah reading hasn’t a clear antecedent. First glance seems to have it pointing back to the entire paragraph…i.e. that the fact that He accomplishes all that shall be to him for a name. Or “it” could refer to the Word in general. Either one would be commensurate with Paul’s statement that “Wherefore [because of His going forth in voluntary condescension and obedience, even unto the death of the cross] God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him the Name which is above every Name”.

    However, “it” could also refer to “the myrtle tree”, or perhaps “the fir tree”. Question: Do we know if the Cross was made of either a myrtle or fir, or perhaps a bit of both?

  2. I quoted this passage, as is my habit because I like the traditional English, from the KJV but perhaps I should have used the LXX.

    “And instead of the bramble shall come up the cypress,
    and instead of the nettle shall come up the myrtle:
    and the Lord shall be for a name,
    and for an everlasting sign, and shall not fail.”

    That would fit nicely with the Cross as the sign promised, and dovetail with John 8:28 and 12:32, “When I am lifted up…”. And of course as Jesus is the Word of God, the reference to the word of God and the Philippians hymn would be entirely consistent too.

    The wood should then be cypress or myrtle wood. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, the wood of the Cross is traditionally held to be of pine wood. Cypress is a conifer, so that also ties in very well. I gather Isaiah 60:13 has also been long interpreted as referring to the Cross, and that mentions cypress, as well as having Temple and hence sacrificial significance.

    Great comment! Very interesting. Many thanks.

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