Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why Did Jesus Die? (Conclusion ) To Rise Again

We have looked at Christ's death with no prospect whatever of truly fathoming it, but merely gazing toward the depths of the mysterious gem through some of its many facets.

But Christ’s death would have been for nothing had He not risen again. The capstone of the Resurrection is what gives ultimate meaning to all the angles we have discussed. Christ could not have healed us if He were forever subject to the same sickness. Christ couldn’t crucify sin and death if He Himself had succumbed to either. If He hadn’t risen, the flesh and blood He gives us would not have been our Passover, but only mortal flesh and blood, useless except as a memorial of a curious, demented, historical peronality. He couldn’t be our Justifier if He himself had not been vindicated by the Resurrection. He couldn’t serve as our High Priest in heaven if He weren’t there. He could not be our Mediator or Intercessor either. Jesus could not have led away death’s captives if He had been as captive as they. He could not have set us the example of crucifying our own flesh precisely in order to live anew, had He not been resurrected. He could not have revealed in His Person our own ultimate destiny, nor would it be our ultimate destiny, if He had not risen. In short, Christ died in order to rise again. The Crucifixion, without the Resurrection, would have left us still on the path to total oblivion.

To recount all the other meanings of His resurrection, supposing it were possible, would require another whole series of posts, for there are many more than we have mentioned (because they aren't directly about our topic, the crucifixion). Other aspects of our salvation Christ could not have accomplished unless He had risen include, for example: ascending into heaven still bearing our humanity; making us His adopted brothers and sisters; sending us the Holy Spirit; glorifying and deifying us; and on and on. I am not planning to write that whole other series of posts, it being too daunting a task, but I hope this series dispels the notion that we Orthodox empty the Cross of all meaning. And I hope it has made accessible to the non-Orthodox a different set of meanings.

If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also for nothing. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:14-28)


JTKlopcic said...

Excellent series. Thanks so much for posting it! It's definitely sent reverbrations throughout the blogosphere (whatever that means).

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It has???