Jesus Christ, the Eye of Prophecy

Jesus reading Isaiah (Lk 4:16-30) - "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ..."

This talk was given at the 13th Colloquium of Syriac Patrimony under the title The Syriac Exegetes at the Maronite Patriarchal Seminary, Ghazir, Lebanon, in February 2015. It was published in English and Arabic by Centre d’Études et de Recherches Orientales (CERO) in its Patrimoine Syriaque: Les Exégètes Syriaques – Actes du Colloque XIII (2015)We thank CERO for granting us permission to republish the English version on the This links displays/downloads an Arabic Translation of this article in pdf.


The Treasury of Prophecy, i.e., the Old Testament, reveals the Son of God according to Jacob of Sarug. God the Father chose prophets to reveal this truth. Their prophecies disclose the only-begotten Son, his coming, crucifixion, and resurrection in numerous types and symbols. These prophets gaze upon the Son through the exalted or luminous Eye of Prophecy (ܥܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܢܒܺܝܘܽܬܳܐ). For example, with the luminous Eye of Prophecy, David saw the Son, who heals the earth by his blood. Moses perceived with the exalted Eye of Prophecy the creation of the world ex nihilo. With the same Eye, he saw the Son of God united to his Church in the waters of the Jordan. The objective of this presentation is to elucidate Jacob’s understanding of the Eye of Prophecy and its relationship to Jesus Christ.

My Vision of the Maronite Church

  • The Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church is depicted as a Cedar of Lebanon. She is founded on Christ (the cross) who is the cornerstone of all churches and she is nourished by God’s Word as found in both Testaments of the Bible. Her roots are based in Jerusalem (the mother of all Churches), Antioch, Edessa and Nisibis, and Lebanon, the See of the Maronite Patriarch.
The Family of Maron
  • For the Maronites, the Cedar of Lebanon represents Mary. In the Maronite Marian litany we find, “O Cedar of Lebanon pray for us.”
  • The cross represents Jesus, the Son of God, who freely accepted death on the cross between two thieves and was vindicated and resurrected by His Father.
  • The Maronite Church embraced Mary as her mother following Jesus’ words to his beloved disciple “Behold, your mother.” And as “from that hour the disciple took her into his home,” the Maronite faithful took Mary into their own homes. Wherever the Maronite Patriarch’s See ended up Mary was at its heart. She is the Patron Saint of every Maronite Patriarch’s chapel.
  • Maronites should return to their Syriac Heritage which is biblical. “Save me, O Lord, from the poison of the Greeks (i.e. philosophy)” uttered Saint Ephrem. The Syriac Fathers used typology in interpreting the Bible. The image of the Cross of Christ was evoked in their mind every time they read a reference to trees and wood in the Old Testament. Therefore, the Cedar of Lebanon refers to the cross.
  • The Maronite Church is a universal Church with roots extending in all continents. Her branches embrace the world as a mother embraces her children without distinction and discrimination.  Let us not forget the parable given by Christ, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches” (Mt. 13:31) The same parable is being evoked. A cedar tree, however, is used instead of a mustard tree.