Tuesday, April 23, 2013



In western Christianity the Cross and death of Christ is greatly misunderstood, but preserved in the Orthodox Church is the truth about the death of our Lord. The death of our Lord is the means of our salvation. Christ was not being abused by an angry God for our sins. This is just not so. Christ offered himself to the torture of the Cross, voluntarily so that we might live. It was an outpouring of the greatest love that ever existed on earth. He is the one and only Godman, and the only Savior of mankind. He is the everlasting High Priest who perpetually offers himself as sacrifice for our sins. He remains as the perpetual sacrificer and victim offered. He rescued us from the captivity of the Devil, the tyrant who rules over man through lawlessness and sin. Let no man be mistaken. As God is the source of all good, the Devil is the source of all evil. There is no evil in God and there is no good in the Devil. Every man has to choose between the good God and the evil devil.

The benefits of the sacrifice of Christ will only be beneficial to those who freely choose to follow and worship Him, keeping all of His commandments. The death of Jesus Christ was necessary in order to bring salvation to humanity, and to fulfill God’s mysterious plan – for He is the prototype of many who will become the perfect image and likeness of God.
St. Paul says:
      "This man (Christ), because he remains forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able to completely save those who come to God by Him, seeing that He continually makes intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, who is devout, blameless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; and who does not need to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins and then for the people; for this He did once, when He offered up himself. For the law appoints men as high priests which have infirmity, but the word of the oath, which was after the law, applies to the Son who is perfect for ever"
(Heb. 7:24-28).
   Christ’s sacrifice is not just an historical remembrance, but is a continuous sacrifice, being the center of worship in His Church. Christ is our High Priest and the sacrificial victim. His sacrifice on the Cross was bloody, but He changed the continuation of the bloody sacrifice into a bloodless sacrifice, but the same sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. He also makes continual intercession for all that come to Him. He is higher than the heavens, being Almighty God and deified man.
      The priests of the Jewish religion, instituted by Moses, were not able to offer a perfect sacrifice to God, for they were infirm sinners, who had to first give a sin offering for themselves and then for the people. The people were promised in return for obedience to the law, the good things of the earth.
     But with the sacrifice of sinless Christ, is seen the perfect sacrifice for all people, for He is the Godman, and He introduces tribulation, pain and suffering, for His sake, as part of this present life, but joy and happiness in the life to come, experiencing these sorrows himself.

    Let us look carefully at the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. For this reason He came into the world, to give himself as a ransom and sacrifice for the faithful. Before He ascended the Cross to die voluntarily, Christ introduced its continuity forever in this manner. "And He took bread and gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to them and saying: This is my body, which is given to you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same manner, after supper, he took the cup, saying: This the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:19-21) Christ used leavened bread, not the unleavened of the Jews, for this is a new covenant or testament. From the beginning leavened bread was used and continues until this day in Christ’s Church. The word in Scriptures is "artos" which means leavened bread; the word for unleavened bread is azymos, which means "without yeast. Only Orthodoxy preserves these truths intact without addition or subtraction, for it is guided by the Comforter and Spirit of Truth.

     Christ spoke of His death on the Cross, knowing it to be the only method by which He could conclude his victory against our enemy, the Devil. It was necessary and prophesied by signs by Moses. When the Israelites were fighting against Amalek, on their way to the Promised Land, Moses stood with his arms outstretched in the form of a Cross. So long as he did, the Amaleks were being defeated, but when Moses grew tired, the sign of the cross disappeared, and the Jews were being defeated. Then Aaron and his Son Ùr , each held up an arm of Moses, until the Jews accomplished the victory. Christ said of himself, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. (It is important to note that, only in Greek can this be seen, alpha being the first and omega the last letter of the alphabet. So it is not O but Ù in Scripture which is omega ù Ù that is used.
      The consequence of Christ dying on the Cross is that it affects our everlasting redemption, and for this reason St. Paul says that it befitted Christ to go to the Cross in order to give us life, for His death, not only did he not see corruption, but His death is filled with life, which, for all time destroyed the nature of death, as light destroys darkness. Christ calls men everywhere, to come to him as sheep to their shepherd, and He declares: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his soul for the sheep. But he who is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, beholds the wolf coming, and abandons the sheep and flees, because he is a hireling and does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know my own sheep, and I am known of my own. Just as the Father knows me, so do I know the Father; and I lay down my soul for the sheep. I also have other sheep which are not of this fold; them too I must bring, and they will hearken to my voice; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10: 11-160.
     The sign of the Cross with three fingers from right to left shoulder is the declaration of every Orthodox Christian in all ages of who they are, Christians, who live differently than people of the world, crucified to sin and alive to Christ, showing this by their walking in the newness of life in peace and joy and in hope of everlasting life. Christ is the center of their lives and ever remembered in their souls, as being our Savior, Bridegroom, High Priest and King.

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