Wednesday, April 17, 2013



      Jesus Christ upon entering this world as a new born babe in Bethlehem had a natural enemy, seeking to put Him to death! This enemy is known as the Devil. At the very beginning, as soon as Christ became incarnate, the Devil, being a "murderer from the beginning", darkened and blinded Herod, causing him to seek and destroy the infant Jesus, which necessitated the flight into Egypt. Having failed this first attempt, the Devil desired even more to put Jesus to death, because He was a new man in whom the Devil saw no sin, considering Him to be a threat to his kingdom. But Jesus also had a desire to put His natural enemy to death, and it was for this purpose He came into the world, after partaking of flesh and blood, as St. Paul says: "Inasmuch then as children are partakers of flesh and blood, and He himself similarly had a share thereof, in order that through death He might abolish the one who had the control of death, that is, the Devil. Also that He might free all of them who for fear of death have throughout their lives been subject to slavery" (Heb. 2:14).
     So Jesus had a strong desire to put to death to death and do away with the Devil who had control of death; just as the Devil also had a desire to do away with Jesus and put Him to death, and this making the two naturally implacable and irreconcilable enemies. A war would be fought until one of the two vanquishes and destroys the rival enemy, Jesus as the ruler and leader of every virtue, and the Devil as the ruler and leader of every vice.
With what murderous weapons shall these two adversaries and enemies fight each other? Only with the law of God. The law of God is really a sword by which life can be taken or protected. He who keeps the law of God is keeping his own life. He who transgresses it is condemning himself to death. Now the perfect and sinless man is all-powerful and able to defeat his enemy. The war intensified following Jesus’s baptism: "Then, Jesus, full of Holy Spirit was led up to the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil" (Mat. 4:1).
     Death came into the world when the first woman disclosed God’s law to the Devil and transgressed the law of God. This was due to the Devil’s crafty deception and persuasion, by falsely promising them that they would become like the most High God, if she ate the forbidden fruit, then persuaded her husband and he also ate, and they became ashamed of their nakedness.
     Now, after Jesus, had fasted forty days He then became hungry and the Devil came to tempt Him, hoping to put the new man to death, like the old by persuading Him to break the law of God. Having preceded with other temptations, he then offered him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory in exchange for a single bow. But he was told at once: "Get behind me Satan, for it is written: You shall worship the Lord your God and only Him shall you adore." The Devil sought to put Christ to death, by causing him to break this law by worshiping him instead of God. Through all the Devil’s attacks Jesus remained invincible, so the Devil went away but would come back to the fight Him again.
     As He preached the Gospel throughout the nation, Jesus made His appearance in the midst of the people of Jerusalem on the occasion of the great feast of Passover. Having previously done many signs and wonders, which caused many people to follow Him, the crowds grew bigger each day. By His many beneficial deeds, such as giving sight to the blind, raising paralytics, cleansing lepers, casting out demons and raising the dead, He demonstrated to all that He was the Son of David, the Anointed one of the Lord, the Messiah whom the people all patiently had waited for, and hoped to see His kingdom during their own days.

     Before His voluntary Passion, Jesus astounded all Jerusalem, who knew for certain that Lazarus had died, by raising the four-day dead Lazarus, whose body had already begun to decompose, merely by calling in a loud voice: "Lazarus, come forth!" Lazarus came forth and this earth-shaking event remains in memories and will never be forgotten, This great wonder, filled with promise, is indelibly imprinted in every Orthodox mind: "Four-day dead Lazarus!" This event caused such excitement and attracted such crowds, that the religious leaders, the high priest, scribes and pharisees saw the necessity for Him to die, or they would lose their authority and power. Their anxieties multiplied on the following day, when Jesus rode on the foal of an ass into Jerusalem, and was greeted with palms, flowers, clothing strewn on the road, and shouts of: "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; the king of Israel."
     Jesus is not an observer, but controls all events, for He is the Godman. In Jerusalem, before the feast of Passover Jesus was now preparing to put the Devil to death, free those in Hades, and forgive the sin of countless people, and annihilate His enemies. He would accomplish this by trapping the Devil into the greatest possible sin, and He was successful. The greatest possible sin for the Devil, under the law of God is as follows: "You shall not put an innocent and just man to death."
     How then did the rulers sentence Christ to death? Because they saw that Christ was greeted as a king and messiah and the anointed of God, but He failed to accept the will of the people. Therefore, they reasoned and convinced the people that He was a false Messiah and a false King, proven by His non-acceptance. Yet, due to the strong sentiment of the people they were still unable to seize Him for their murderous plan and "he taught daily in the temple."

The Jewish leaders, having conspired with Judas, adopted his betrayal idea and they agreed that, for thirty pieces of silver, he would betray Christ that they might seize Him. Judas carried out his infamous betrayal of Christ, and acting as a disciple and friend, he ran to him in the darkened night and kissed him. Our Lord was fully aware of these events, and spoke kindly to Judas: "Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a kiss?" This outrage will always be remembered, as in Orthodox prayers: "I will not give you a kiss as did Judas." His betrayal of the Master sealed his condemnation to eternal separation and death, and he knew it, for he cast away the 30 pieces of silver and went and hanged himself.
     The high priest and rulers held mock trial so as to seal the death condemnation against Jesus. They could not understand his silence, nor could they know that He desired to be condemned to death, being part of His plan to save mankind. But when the High Priest said: "I adjure you by the living God, to tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus did not remain silent but replied: "It is as you say, and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand power coming in the clouds of heaven." The rulers characterized His answer as being blasphemous, and affirmed His death sentence. Then they fearlessly spat in his face, whipped Him, slapped Him and mocked Him, saying: "Prophecy to us Christ; who is it that struck you?" Jesus however, patiently endured these things knowing that they would redound to His glory and result in the success of His battle.
     Behind all these men and the people was their mentor and advisor, the Devil, and he used the blind rulers and Judas Iscariot to betray and the rulers to carry out his plan to put Jesus to death, being himself so blind, that he could not realize that the unjust death of Jesus would seal his own fate and wipe out his authority and power.
     The rulers took Jesus before Pontius Pilate in order to obtain his approval for His death, and a military force to perform the crucifixion. The governor told the people that he found no fault or evil in this man. So the decision to put Jesus to death now rested with the people. Pilate consulted with them, seeking to release Jesus, as being innocent. They refused and demand the notorious Barabbas instead. Pilate asked the people:
"What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ"

And they answered: "Let Him be crucified!" When the governor asked: "Why, what evil has He done?" They cried out vehemently, saying: "Let Him be crucified!"

     Compelling Him to bear His Cross, they led Him to Golgotha where they crucified Him between two robbers. At the ninth hour Jesus bowed His head and surrendered His Spirit. Many events accompanied this event, but the unseen event is what we will now bring out. Jesus and the Devil were waging war against each other. The law was the sword, which the Devil used to destroy Christ. But by His patient endurance and suffering, under the same law, Christ defeated and conquered the Devil, seizing everything. All the spoils of the war now go to Christ as the Victor, for by being unjustly tortured and killed, He is given all authority and power in heaven and earth.
      Beloved, this is about each and everyone of us! The justice of God which gave us a death sentence from the beginning, no longer sentences us. Christ gives us the opposite – His great mercy. Justice gives us what we deserve, but the mercy of Christ gives us what we do not deserve, freedom, happiness, everlasting life. Through the law, we are the sinners who have lost paradise. We are the iniquitous who do not know how to live in peace and tranquility. We are the thieves, robbers, liars, fornicators and adulterous, slanderers, drunkards and gluttons, who were trapped in sins, unable to escape, until Christ grants us the great mercy, advising us: "Go and sin no more, for I do not condemn you." We prisoners are now set free. We who were slaves to sin can now live without sin. We have been set free from passions which dragged us almost by compulsion to sin. Paradise is reopened and the fruit of the tree of life is given to us, never to be barred by the flaming Cherubim, never to be taken away.
     God’s laws and are given to free men who can decide whether or not they would desire to live by them, which is an important choice, for obedience to God’s law is life, while disobedience is death. This is an important thing to acknowledge, because there are some who teach that the war between Christ and the Devil, is not a legal thing, which is exactly what it is. Without the law the battle could never have taken place, and it is the law on which Christ based His attack, which He fought with prudence and patience, and from which, He established his victory collecting the spoils of war. It is these spoils of war, which He bestows on us, and by which He saved the race of man, bringing us to heaven and eternal life. He feeds us with His body and Blood. He sends the Holy Spirit to remind us of everything. Body and souls are made well. Sins are forgiven. We are set free from our passions. Here are the wonderful words of our Christ declaring His victory.: "All authority is given to me, in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them all things whatever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you to the close of the ages"

 (Mat. 28:18-20).



Forgiveness pours forth from the Cross. The Cross itself has become our invincible weapon, and just its sign cause the demons to tremble in fear. The Cross is the glory of the Church, the triumph of holy kings and queens. The Cross makes us invincible and bold. The love of God is clearly seen before our eyes: "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

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