What did Jesus do on the Cross?

Icon-CrucifixionThe question makes me think of someone asking me “how do you love your wife?”  Well, I can’t answer that in a simple statement, or even in logical terms at all.  We have poetry to help us understand questions like this and you can see it most in what I do and how I treat her.

The same can be said for the question “What did Jesus do on the cross?”.  It can’t be adequately described or understood in words.  Not that we shouldn’t try, but ultimately all the doctrinal statements to describe what Jesus did, while they may be true, although I would disagree with some of the common statements, they fall short, and not just a little short.  They fall short by lightyears.  Just like saying I love your mother a lot falls short of describing our bond. Continue reading “What did Jesus do on the Cross?”

The Importance of Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…”  Galatians 5:1

Maybe I am showing my American bias towards the centrality of freedom, but I don’t think so.  I think the idea is much deeper than America, or The Constitution.  The Bill of Rights even says that these truth’s are self evident.  They come from God, not from men.  In fact it is a gift given by God twice, both involving a tree.

The first tree was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  At this tree, the first Man (and Woman), was given the freedom to choose his own destiny and, ironically, in exercising this freedom, he chose slavery.

The second tree was an instrument of torture and death, the Cross. At this tree, the second man, the God-Man, was given the freedom to choose all of Man and God’s destiny and, ironically, in giving his life over to death, he gave life to all of creation.  For death was too greedy, and in swallowing up a man, he found he had taken in God and he was overwhelmed, because death could not hold him.  The bonds of slavery that en-shackled men were broken and he was set free.

But, I digress.  When considering all of the evil that freedom brought, why was this freedom so important?  If you don’t think freedom was that big of a deal, think of this. Before the fall, were their any wars?  Before Adam chose to follow his own desires, were there any Hitler’s, or Stalin’s, or Mao’s, or Napoleon’s, or Xerxe‘s?

Without freedom their is no poverty, there is no holocost, or slavery, there is none of the mass horrific pain, suffering and death throughout the centuries.

Since God is good, he takes no pleasure in the suffering of his creation, when we hurt he hurts, as can be seen on the cross.

I leave you with this one, “why?”  Why is freedom so important to allow all of this?

He Is Risen

The Resurrection of Jesus2 Millennia ago a pebble was cast into a pond creating a ripple affect that rather than fading and diminishing over time has been amplified to spread and grow endlessly throughout all of creation.  God became man and lived among us.  He ate and drank with us, he grew up with us, He taught, He healed, He bled, He died, and on this day, He rose again.

The ripple from that day spreads, mostly unseen, through the hearts of men and women as they trust and believe in this risen savior, the God-Man.

As the God-Man, he was completely and utterly God and completely and utterly Man.  Just as the Trinity is a mystery beyond human understanding, so is this perfect unity and completeness of God and Man.

When Christ rose from the dead he became the first of many brothers and sisters to be reborn.  First we are made new in our spirit and we look ever forward to that day when we will be made new in the flesh, just as he is.

But it is not only us that will be healed and made complete, it is all of creation that groans under the weight of sin and separation from it’s creator, that will benefit eternally from his resurrection.  Not only is Jesus the first among Men, but when he arose, all of creation is being pulled out of the grave with him.  Everything is being made new.

This is why Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, or of Heaven, being close at hand or even arriving, but of course it is not yet complete.  But like the ripple in a pond it is ever spreading, ever widening, and will someday be all encompassing.

So the resurection of Jesus is the conquering of death, the forgiveness of sins, the salvation of mankind, the firstborn of all creation, the initiation of the Kingdom of God.

Father, let your Kingdom come and Your will be done on Earth, just as it is in Heaven.

Below is an early Paschal sermon from  St John Chrysostom which I would like to close with.  It should be read with much fervor and excitement for it proclaims the most important and happy truth’s known to man.

 

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.

If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.

If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.

If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.

If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.

He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.

He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.

O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!

O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!

The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!

The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!

He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions“.
It was embittered, for it was abolished!

It was embittered, for it was mocked!

It was embittered, for it was purged!

It was embittered, for it was despoiled!

It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!

It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!

It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?

O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.

To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.

Amen.

John Chrysostom Icon