PASCHA! CHRIST IS RISEN!
“Christ is risen from the dead;
trampling down death by death;
We are all born as infants who eventually when we reach adulthood, many of us marry and have babies maintaining a continuous cycle of birth and death. But all of these birth’s into this present life are not perfect births into a final true life but are births into a temporary life, which sooner or later, ends in death. It is not the way things were created as we were created and endowed with life. While death came from an enemy/ The present life is not the true life for being imperfect always ends with death which often seems premature and is usually undesirable. Necessarily there is a life far superior to this life and it is Pascha or Passover of Christ which is that true and everlasting life, and passes over from this life to that much desired life.
When the Jews sought to be free from the yoke of the Egyptians, many unsuccessful attempts to secure their release failed except for one which brought about their release, and that is called Passover or Pascha! (Note “Pascha” is from the Hebrew meaning Passover. The Lord instructed Moses what the Jews must do when He sent the angel of death to strike all the firstborn in Egypt, to secure releases of the Jews from slavery. But the angel would not strike those who had the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. When the Jews applied the blood of the lamb, the angel striking the first-born of Egypt would “pass over” the first born in their houses and they were saved from death by the blood of the lamb.
After hundreds of years of slavery and captivity, Pharaoh was compelled to release them, causing great jubilation and happiness among the Jews, for God procured their release from captivity by means of the blood of the lamb. Jubilantly they sang and danced in the celebration which continued for days, giving thanks to Moses and glorifying God for their deliverance and new found freedom.
Their own parents and grand parents had been slaves but they were now, by divine intervention, and the blood of the lamb a free people, and their joy knew no bounds. But this Passover was not the greatest Pascha, but was the type of another Passover, which would be the greatest event that could ever take place, beginning with the advent of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God.
In the fullness of time, Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, came into the world and became also the Son of the Virgin Mary. Born of her after dwelling in her womb for nine months, He was fulfilling the eternal plan to save man who had been estranged from God due to sin. He will wage war against the instigator of sin and enemy of both God and man. He reconciled man with God, by offering himself as the perfect sacrifice s which will bring salvation to the entire human race. God alone could not save us, nor could man, but only the Godman was able to bring salvation to the world. The Evil one by the authority of sin and the law, wreaked havoc on the human race, inciting men to evil deeds and fomenting fighting and war between them. Though peace and mutual love was desirable with the promise of happiness, it was rarely seen among the sons of men.
The evil one, having deceived the first man and woman, possessed great authority and power by which he inspired evil thoughts and actions among men. He did not realize that his days were numbered from the time of the incarnation of the Logos. Nor did he know of the trap which was prepared to strip him of the tyrannical authority over men. This trap is the Cross upon which Christ would ascend, sacrificing himself for the salvation of man. The Jewish priests and leaders brought Christ before Pontius Pilate and upon the testimony of false witnesses and false accusations, they demanded the death of Christ.
Pilate told the Jews that they should take Him and put Him to death, but they refused. Christ had chosen the Cross which was the punishment of the Romans and this would be the instrument of His death,.
The law of God proclaims that an innocent man shall not be put to death and Jesus Christ was innocent and sinless for He was not from the seed of sinful man, but was eternally born of God the Father. He chose the Cross for important reasons, being that it was a well known instrument for putting malefactors to death. Today we see the glory of the Cross which has brought joy into all the world being the symbol of Christ’s perfect sacrifice.
Jesus prepared His disciples for his coming death, saying: “that He must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and the priests, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Mat.16:21). He strengthened their faith with promises that he would not leave them and would send them the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, as a Guide and Comforter. Of His own will Christ submitted himself as prisoner, underwent harsh questioning and abuse. They considered Him unworthy to stay alive and condemned Him to death. But He would go to His death as a lamb goes to slaughter without a protest, for death on the Cross was His objective in order to accomplish His purpose which would produce the resultant victory, the victory of Pascha!
Scripture records: “And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted on him a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and put a reed in His right hand, and they bowed their knees before Him and mocked Him, saying: “Rejoice, King of the Jews! And they spat on Him and took the reed and smote Him on the head. And after they mocked Him, they took the robe from Him, and put His own garment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him” (Mat.27:27-32).
They heaped evils upon Him, then crucified Him as they contentedly watched Him suffering as He was dying on the Cross. He finally surrendered His spirit and died. But Christ is the life of the entire world! How can life be put to death? He died in the flesh as a man but not as God. This unjust death on the Cross gives Christ the greatest victory of all victories, for the devil took His life unjustly and cannot repay, therefore to Christ belongs the victory over the evil one, accomplished as a result of His unjust death on the Cross. Christ, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, has won for those who believe in Him, the victory and eternal life. This is the new and glorious Pascha, the eternal Pascha, the Pascha through which Christ the life of all offers eternal life to those who come to Him in faith.
Christ could not remain dead but on the third day arose, and He will never die again for He has annihilated the authority and power of death, destroying death by His death which is life-giving. By His death He has put death to death and granted eternal life to those who believe and worship Jesus Christ as true God and man. The angel of God joyously proclaimed the glad tidings to the women: “Do not fear; you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead . . . (Mat.38:5-7).
The Jewish Passover of old meant physical freedom from the tyranny of Pharo ah with hope of the promised land, flowing with milk and honey which was very desirable, but was only a type of the real Pascha. The real Passover or Pascha, is most desirable, for it passes us from this present life to eternal life. For Pascha to the Orthodox means the end of death and everlasting life. For just as Christ died and was buried and arose from the dead, we too, having died with Him in Baptism, will certainly rise with Him in His glorious Resurrection . This is the glory of Jesus Christ! This is the glory of the Cross! This is the glory of Pascha! This is the glory of the Resurrection. Pascha is accomplished for Christ is risen from the dead and we too shall arise with Him.
Christ is risen from the dead; trampling down death by death; and upon those on the tombs bestowing life!