THE CROSS AND THE RESURRECTION


“Why did Jesus have to die?”

Presbytera Jeannie tries here to answer the question above from one of her students.

However, I would not say that simply stating that Christ had to die to destroy death answers satisfactorily the question of that student.

He could now ask: “Ok, but why God could not simply destroy death without Christ dying?” He is the Almighty, after all.

Exactly, and the answer is just that: He is the Almighty.  The Almighty has no use for slaves. What good slaves can be to Him Who may whatever He wishes?

The answer is in the fact that God cannot deny Himself. He made men in His image, and this means above all that He made us free, free to choose, and this freedom must be preserved at any cost.

Man must be free to choose life eternal, and life eternal is the voluntary submission to the will of God, out of love for Him and His statutes. It is the faith in God and His Word!

This willing submission, in spirit and truth, means the Cross in this world (Mat 16, 24), which men have willingly delivered to the evil one. He died for our sins!

The Cross thus encompass all the life of Christ, and it’s not a single, separate (though, materially, it is the culminating) moment of His redemption of mankind. In other words, Gethsemane and Golgotha are not separate, they constitute the same Cross, so that the specious polemics about the imagined heresy contained in the work of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev are just a waste of time, with all their trawl of braided misunderstandings.

To be sure, the Metropolitan’s work contains not a few flaws:

  • we are not guilty for the sin of Adam, but we inherit that sin, in our flesh; our flesh is not only the body, but also what make it a living body, the soul; our soul is however a living (and rational <= logos provided) soul too, by the Spirit breathed in us by God, whereby able to be a bridge between the body and the Spirit, so that it can bear the imprint of the Eternal; if our will (our existence) directs and uses the soul just as a bridge to the world, then man abdicate his kingship, to become only the most sophisticated and the most stupid of the animals at the same time, bartering the image of God for that of the Beast;
  • the regenerative principle in man is exactly the same as the generative principle of his living soul: the Holy Spirit; the love of Christ in His suffering for a fallen mankind and complete obedience in our flesh to God unto death, even the death on the cross, is the conduit through which the Holy Spirit proceeds anew to many (all those who believe in Him), through His Body; the fuse which ignite the regenerative principle is Faith.
  • the fulfilment by Christ of all righteousness is not secondary at all;
  • man is the union of a living soul and a body, perfectly united, with no confusion, no separation, so that there are no torments not shared by both in this life;
  • it is not correct to dismiss entirely His impending death when explaining the exceedingly sorrowful state of the Lord in Gethsemane, lest you dismiss the supreme podvig of the Son of Man: even knowing that death had no power over Him, death is a traumatic experience for every man, even that Man, above all for that Man, the Sinless One; for that death (with its outline of humiliations and sufferings) was the only unjust one, death having no power over Him; yet He had to suffer it as a necessary step in the fulfilment of His ministry; for that hour He had come unto the world, to die for our sins;
  • the comparison with the martyrs’ suffering is baseless, as Christ was without sin;
  • the idea of the sufferings of Christ as a sacrifice to the devil is pure silliness, bordering on blasphemy, and should not even be mentioned; the sacrifice of Christ is offered to God, out of infinite love for Him and His will: the salvation of man in the only way fit for the image of God, through his free will;
  • His death was necessary to destroy death (our fear of death, which puts us in bondage to this world and his prince), with His Resurrection.

These flaws are anyway nothing in comparison to the fluffy intellectual slime produced by some of his critics, the usual legends in their own mind, who at time seem to be unaware that, without Christ, the cross is just a massive piece of wood and blood a commodity.

Metropolitan Anthony was fighting heresies, not producing them. His laudable struggle has not been devoid of imperfections, but it’s surely well grounded in the Orthodox understanding of our redemption, contrariwise to the outright heresies which were being taught into Orthodox academies so-called. Heresies so dear to the debauched future betrayers of the Tsar, still unrepentant thereafter, because in them they fancies about finding cloaks for their sins.

The fears and the reserves of blessed Seraphim of Platina about degenerates appropriating the work of Metropolitan Anthony to advance their filthy compromises with the spirit of the world, partially justified also by not always proper examples and language used by Vladika, were not without merit, but futile nevertheless: the devil used the Scripture to tempt the Lord, and his progeny always slither around the Scripture to take cover for their abomination; go figure what they are willing and capable to do with non-Scripture. What should we do? Stay silent? They would then use that silence in their slanderous theomachy.

The culminating moment of His Cross, His death on Golgotha, meant the destruction of death, because the perfect man (as Adam was called to be) is immune to its clutches.

The fallen man must die in order to avoid the perpetuation of evil and his perennial abode in sin. Death is a decree of mercy and imperium at the same time by God. The perfect man had to die in order to be resurrected.

Christ, though sinless, had to die as a man in order to be resurrected, in the body, and free us from the bondage which subjects this world, because of the Fall, to the evil one, a bondage aptly summed up in a few words: the fear of death!

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

A sacrifice was necessary, indeed, the supreme sacrifice offered to God for us, but to the satisfaction of nobody but us, our need to repent and atone for our sins, atonement made possible only by Him and through Him; and only in the measure that this satisfaction of our vital (in the true sense) needs is the good pleasure of God, then, to the satisfaction of God.

A sacrifice suffered by the Lord God, for thus it becometh Christ to fulfil all righteousness (Mat 3, 14), as divinely teached by St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrew.

Death ought to be destroyed, but only in a way preserving our free choice, to join the Way (and this means the Cross in this world), teached by the Truth, to Life everlasting.

The perfect man was also the perfect God, because only the Son incarnated could accomplish that complete, voluntary and self-denying obedience.

No man after the Fall could do it.

As you know, the fall of logical beings, both angels and people, occurred through rebellion. When Christ came to bring back into balance that which had fallen, he did not deign, nor provide nor attempt nor decide to make that return by any other gate but that of obedience.

When Christ came, He had the power, as Lord of all to alter even the law of creation, because “He spoke and they were born, He commanded and they were made”. He is the craftsman. And yet, to prove the perfection of His Godly magnificence, He indicated that there should be a return to where the fall occurred. He was forced, therefore, to take on our own nature, to undergo a kind of selflessness that’s inconceivable for the thought process of logical beings and to persuade us, in practice, that our restitution could only succeed in this way.

Venerable Joseph of Vatopaidi

The perfect God had to become a man, because it was man who did need His salvation.

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

That glorification, in absolute humility, obedience and submission (to God, not to men), restored to mankind the Way shown by the Truth to Life, a hope of salvation.

Just a hope, as man must still choose, every man. God cannot deny Himself.

Life eternal is the Faith in a faithful God and His Son, His Word, the Conveyor of His Holy Spirit: our Lord Jesus Christ!

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

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