Monday, October 21, 2013

The nourisher - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"The blood of the Word has been also exhibited as milk. Milk being thus provided in parturition, is supplied to the infant; and the breasts, which till then looked straight towards the husband, now bend down towards the child, being taught to furnish the substance elaborated by nature in a way easily received for salutary nourishment. For the breasts are not like fountains full of milk, flowing in ready prepared; but, by effecting a change in the nutriment, form the milk in themselves, and discharge it. And the nutriment suitable and wholesome for the new-formed and new-born babe is elaborated by God, the nourisher and the Father of all that are generated and regenerated." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Clement, having contended that the milk of the Word and the blood of His Son are one and the same, proceeds to identify the allegorical reality of both the blood and the milk.
"Further, pregnant women, on becoming mothers, discharge milk. But the Lord Christ, the fruit of the Virgin, did not pronounce the breasts of women blessed, nor selected them to give nourishment; but when the kind and loving Father had rained down the Word, Himself became spiritual nourishment to the good. O mystic marvel! The universal Father is one, and one the universal Word; and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere, and one is the only virgin mother. I love to call her the Church. This mother, when alone, had not milk, because alone she was not a woman. But she is once virgin and mother—pure as a virgin, loving as a mother. And calling her children to her, she nurses them with holy milk, viz., with the Word for childhood. Therefore she had not milk; for the milk was this child fair and comely, the body of Christ, which nourishes by the Word the young brood, which the Lord Himself brought forth in throes of the flesh, which the Lord Himself swathed in His precious blood... The Word is all to the child, both father and mother and tutor and nurse... Such is the suitable food which the Lord ministers, and He offers His flesh and pours forth His blood, and nothing is wanting for the children’s growth. O amazing mystery! We are enjoined to cast off the old and carnal corruption, as also the old nutriment, receiving in exchange another new regimen, that of Christ, receiving Him if we can, to hide Him within; and that, enshrining the Saviour in our souls, we may correct the affections of our flesh." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Christ Himself has become our nourishment and He has become the sum total of all we need. Jesus has become our all in all. He is all we need to grow both strong, spiritual, and righteous. Furthermore, He has called together His church that within her His children might be cared for and nursed upon the true nourishment who is the Word of God. The church is not the nourishment, but by her loving care she call His young to gather together and to be feed on the true meat and true drink of the Word. However, we must not look to the church nor to the written word as our nourishers, for neither of these are, though they contain nourishment, rather we must look to the Father who is the true nourisher of us all.
"The flesh figuratively represents to us the Holy Spirit; for the flesh was created by Him. The blood points out to us the Word, for as rich blood the Word has been infused into life; and the union of both is the Lord, the food of the babes—the Lord who is Spirit and Word. The food—that is, the Lord Jesus—that is, the Word of God, the Spirit made flesh, the heavenly flesh sanctified. The nutriment is the milk of the Father, by which alone we infants are nourished. The Word Himself, then, the beloved One, and our nourisher, hath shed His own blood for us, to save humanity; and by Him, we, believing on God, flee to the Word, 'the care-soothing breast' of the Father. And He alone, as is befitting, supplies us children with the milk of love, and those only are truly blessed who suck this breast." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Jesus is our nourishment and the Father our nourisher. All of life begins and ends with God. He is the "Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:13) All who seek Him will find food, nourishment, and love.
"Thus to Christ the fulfilling of His Father’s will was food; and to us infants, who drink the milk of the word of the heavens, Christ Himself is food. Hence seeking is called sucking; for to those babes that seek the Word, the Father’s breasts of love supply milk." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
In our hunger and need for food, true food, let us return to the Father, who lovingly feeds and nourishes us, and to the Son, who is our nourishment, that we might be strengthened and grow in all things pertaining to life.

David Robison

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