“I have authority* to lay it (my soul) down,
and I have the authority to take it up again”
(John 10:18) \
(*Usually mistranslated as “power.” Herein can be seen that correct translation of a single word “authority” is important)
Jesus here reminds His disciples and others that He has authority in heaven and on earth and that He will voluntarily submit himself to the wicked men as He undergoes torture and death. This will come on Him by the arrogant high priests, scribes and Pharisees and many other Jews acting under the evil one’s authority. They did not know that Christ willed everything that would happen to Him and He often prophesied His torturous death on the Cross. He also knew that He could avoid this and not even become incarnate. Jesus verified this when He told Peter when he drew a sword and cut off the high priest’s servants ear: “Do you not think that I cannot now pray to my Father and He will presently give me more than 12 legions of angels?”
Ordinary men cannot claim as did Christ: “I have the authority to lay down my life and take it up again,” for man lacks such authority. Christ alone being the all powerful Logos of the triune God and alone has divine authority and power is enabled to do whatever He decides. But it was His will to submit when they sought to destroy Him. Christ prevented attempts to avoid His crucifixion for this was His earnest desire, and He knew the objective he was seeking. Some of His followers even desired that He should be crowned as king, unaware that he was not only a man but also the all-powerful Logos of God, the King and Lord of all having authority over all that exists.
If a man is about to be killed by others he is aware that he does not have authority over his own life, and cannot, like Christ say to his killers: “I have the authority to lay my life down.” Only Christ has such authority and is able to say: “I have the authority to lay it down; and I have the authority to take it up again.” Christ willed every event of His life, for as God He knows everything and can do everything. But how wonderful that even though He objected, He submitted to His Mother when she said:“Son, they have no wine,” then out of profound respect for His Mother, He complied with her request and changed the water into wine, which proved to be of the highest quality!
Christ clearly knew the soul-saving fruits that would come from His death and for this reason He submitted to the terrible death on the Cross. As God He knew everything, while as man He suffered everything. When they cried out for His death on the Cross, He could have rendered them mute and unable to demand His death, but His perfect vision of the future, caused His submission to His saving passion, crucifixion and death. It was for these reasons that He willed to go through whatever was necessary. He knew the good end which would cause the faithful to rejoice and acquire everlasting life, and He knew the terrible and just end of the wicked men who, completely lacking mercy and love slaughtered Him after vicious mockery, whipping, beating, spitting and insulting Him, considering Him to be unworthy of life!
Christ being the only Lover of man, always knew what others could not fathom. The Devil and demons did not foresee their coming demise, nor could Pilate and the Scribes and Pharisees see the terrible punishment that would come. Concerning His Passion and death on the Cross, s a man, He did not want it, but out of His strong and perfect love for men, He earnestly desired to submit to His suffering and death. He knew the great joy and jubilation that would come upon the human race and which would also gladden them by His crucifixion and glorious third-day Resurrection!
Only in Christ’s Orthodox Church is the Cross honored by the faithful, who honor it with bows and kisses. The Cross continually testifies to Christ’s love, victory and His divine authority. We greatly honor the Cross by signing ourselves with it on our person. We should sign ourselves upon arising and going to bed, going in and out of the car, before and after eating and working, at the beginning and ending of our prayers, and in other instances, especially in gathering as the church, for the Cross is our greatest companion, hence we sing” “Behold, through the Cross joy has come into the world!”
The joy that abides in us by partaking of Christ, not only through the Eucharist, but in keeping all His commandments is beyond description. For He increases our faith strengthens our love, increases our joy, and this causes our firm thanksgiving and supreme love for Him, and His eternal Father and all-holy Spirit now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen
Great hope and sincere love will always fill our souls if we sincerely offer Jesus Christ our adoration and worship, for this increases and strengthens our faith, hope and love for our King and God. Continually remembering His divine authority in voluntarily laying down His life and bringing it back after deadening death by His death and His glorious third-day resurrection, and so let us cry to Him: Sweet Jesus Christ teach us all even more about your great love for man, that we may increase our faith and love for you!