Devotion | Anathasius – Part 1
He could hear the horse hooves cutting into the soft soil, the jingling of the approaching tack, clanging against sword and armor. He would have one chance to do what needed to be done. He crouched and waited for the precise moment. Any second now and he could go for it. The ears of the horse appeared and he lept, wrapping his arms around the neck, hanging on for dear life. The horse reared, then bolted, attempting to shake free the attacker. The Emperor took charge and brought the horse to a stop while reaching for his sword. As he brought the blade down, the little man lept for his life.
It was about 350 AD, and his name was Athanasius. His nickname was “the Black Dwarf” because of his small size and dark skin (He was from North Africa). Though small in size, he was also known for his tenacity in his battle for truth. He was willing to go to such extremes as the above story shows because he believed deeply in the cause for which he fought, answering the question, “Who was Jesus?” Those who believed he was only a man were blocking Athanasius’s access to the Emperor. They stirred up lies about his activities and views to get him fired from his job as bishop and to keep him on the run.
But Athanasius had fought too long for what he believed just to give up now. How could Jesus be only a man? “Do martyrs die for a mere man?”
Athanasius knew that Jesus was both God and man, as it said in John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” and that, with that truth, “We would not have been saved from sin and the curse unless the Word had taken upon Himself natural human flesh.”
Some would say, “What’s the big deal? It’s just words… why fight so hard?” But definitions matter and Athanasius knew the future of the faith rested on this.
He knew his strategy for getting the attention of the Emperor would put his life on the line, but what did he have to lose? He would do whatever it took to get the truth out. He would keep proclaiming the truth that “The Word became flesh” meant that Jesus was both God and man. He’d lost his job and been repeatedly driven from his hometown because of his views. It was all worth it though, in the battle for truth, but the fight wasn’t over yet. He must get time with the Emperor and present his case in person.
Just as Athanasius jumped, he felt the brush of the sword pass by. He yelled, “Wait! I’m one of your Bishops. I must speak with you about truth!” The Emperor, one of the finest swordsman of his age, had barely missed Athanasius. He paused long enough to agree to see him in person later. But the lies continued and the two never met. Instead, Athanasius was sent on the run again. But Athanasius believed the fight was worth it and that truth would reign in the end, so he kept fighting for truth.
- Why did Athanasius believe it was worth risking his life for the truth of who Jesus is?
- Is there some truth you’ve fought for or feel is worth standing for? Maybe you haven’t put your life on the line, but is there something you believe in that is worth defending?
God, we give thanks that you sent your son to come down to earth, take on flesh, and dwell among us. Thank you for people like Athanasius, who repeatedly fought for truth and sought to honor the reality that Jesus is God. Help us to never give up on that truth.