In the name of the Fr., and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
Concealing His Divinity:
Consequently, our Lord Jesus Christ was determined to let Satan drink from the same chalice from which he forced man to drink. The only begotten Son of God, the Word of God, was incarnate and concealed His divinity from the devil. Coming in the image of man, He perplexed and bewildered the devil. Sometimes he was certain that this is the Word of God, but at others the devil doubted. For example, the Lord hungered, after fasting on the mount, and the devil was perplexed. Throughout His life on earth the Lord concealed His divinity.
The Lord performed many miracles, preached the life of holiness and repentance, and attracted people to God’s love. This infuriated the devil against Him until ultimately he decided to crucify Him on a cross of wood. The wood was taken from a tree.
Saint Ephrem the Syrian says that, on the cross the fruit was hanging on the wooden tree of old. Could you, death, swallow this particular fruit (Jesus Christ) that is hanging from that tree (the cross)? Death here, is the devil of whom it is written, “…who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14). The devil decided to swallow it, and death here opened its mouth wide in order to gulp this yummy hanging fruit. He saw that this fruit was, “Fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold”.
Death Was Swallowed Up By Life:
The devil decided to kill the Lord in order to get rid of Him. At the moment he gulped this fruit, he gulped Life, and the result was that death was swallowed up by life. To make this point clear, imagine a dark room swallowing a beacon of light, what would happen? Darkness will disappear. So did the room swallow up the beacon of light, or did the light swallow up darkness?
Another example: if someone was very disturbed and angry, and swallowed a large quantity of Nitric Acid, who consumed the other? It is the Nitric acid that consumed him.
A third illustration is of certain kinds of fish. It is common sense for larger fish to eat smaller ones. However, there are some kinds of tiny fish that eat the stomach of the big fish that swallowed them. It gnaws from inside until it makes a hole, escapes, then feeds on the big fish. So, in spite of the fact that the big fish swallowed the tiny one, the truth is that the tiny one ate the big fish.
Saint Ephrem the Syrian said that death gulped its opposite, which is life; so death was gulped up by life. Hades gulped up life, so it was not able to tolerate life inside itself. How can Hades swallow up Christ who is Life? It could not!
In true, the Lord Jesus Christ declared the holiness of God on the cross in bearing the wrath of God that resulted from the sin of man, but at the same time He conquered death and overcame it.
An example: ask a wrestler whether he could overcome a lion. If his response is that he could, not only overcome a lion, but also let the lion eat him, then overcome the lion. Can anyone believe him? If he could do this he would be the strongest person on earth. This is what our Lord did. He let death swallow Him, then through death He trampled over death. He resurrected victoriously from the dead on the third day. No one raised Him up, He was raised up by His divine power: in other words He raised Himself up.
When our lord Jesus Christ raised Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, “…He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!” (Jn 11:43). However, concerning His own resurrection He said, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 17:22-23). Concerning the temple of His body, He told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn. 2:19). They thought that He was speaking about the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem that was recently renovated.
The prophet said, “Where is thy penalty, O death? O Hades, where is thy sting?” (Hos 13:14, see also 1Cor 15:55). The Lord Christ resurrected from the dead. Had He not resurrect, the story of salvation would have been very miserable and heartbreaking.
By His death the Lord solved the problem of sin, but we are still left with the problem of death.
Through His death our Lord solved the problem of sin, and through His resurrection he resolved the problem of death which was a result of sin.
The resurrection delighted the hearts of the disciples, the church, and the entire world. It is written that He, “…brought life and immortality to light” (2Tim 1:10); the “…eternal life which was with the Fr. and was manifested to us” (1Jn 1:2).
Following is a story that might help us comprehend the importance of the resurrection for humanity. It would also help us comprehend the concepts of atonement, redemption, and salvation through the blood of Christ.
A man had a daughter whom he always charged not to be out late, because he cared very much for her, and was worried about her. She thought her father did not love her because he was restricting her, always giving her orders, was ignorant and old fashioned. She wanted to go out with her friends and enjoy her time.
One day she put on her jewelry and decorated herself. As she was leaving her father asked her where she was going, and she answered that it was none of his business. Being so worried about her, the father followed her undetected. Suddenly, a group of evil youth came upon her with knives, wanting to attack her, seduce her, and steal her jewelry. She screamed, not knowing that her father was near. The father could not stand it, he rushed towards his daughter crying out: “Leave my daughter, leave my daughter!” They were astonished at his sudden arrival, so they left the daughter and started to attack the father with their knives. She ran away, but upon looking back she saw them slaughtering him.
She reached home weary and broken down. She felt that she was the cause of her father’s death. He was slaughtered before her eyes. She kept blaming herself because she did not obey him when he used to warn her. She went around the house kissing his cloth and belongings. She kept remembering his advice, blaming herself that she once thought that he did not love her, and that his advice was a sign of hatred. She never thought that he loved her to this extent.
She continued in this condition of distress, depression, and not tolerating life, until one day the door knocked. She opened, and to her shock it was her father. She hugged him and asked how he was back?
The father said that he came because he could not leave her blaming herself for the rest of her life for causing his death. As his love for her made him die for her sake, also his love for her brought him back to life. He told her I came back to life so you would feel happy for my resurrection, relieved for your repentance, happy for your return to me, and happy for your life with me.
This was the joy the church experienced when it met the resurrected Lord. This is the meaning of the resurrection.
The Lord came back alive to the church, as if He wanted to tell her, “I would not let you suffer, not even the grief of the cross.” As if He is telling everyone, “It is true that I paid the price for your sins, but you will continue all your lives feeling that you committed a crime; that you are the cause of My blood, therefore your hands are polluted.”
Saint Paul said concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, “…was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom 4:25). We could have never been justified or regained our peace, unless He was raised from the dead. If through the cross the price of our sin was paid, then through the resurrection He informed us that He completely forgave our sins, forgave us, and was reconciled with us.
Man needed to feel relieved regarding his future life. God declared His wrath against sin on the cross. How can man be confident that God has forgiven his sins, unless he realized that life was renewed?
This is the resurrection that Christianity preaches all over the world. When the disciples wanted to choose someone to replace Judas Iscariot (the disciple who betrayed the Lord) they said, “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).
Christianity is the religion that preaches life and resurrection. It preaches the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ since, “…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor 15:20). Currently, man believes in life after death. When he observed the Lord ascending to the heavens, he knew that there is a heavenly kingdom, which surpasses this life. Thus, Christ our Lord used to say, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
Once an enemy influenced a king’s people not to love him because he was tough, tyrannical, and authoritarian. He felt they did not like him because they did not know him well enough. He dressed in simple cloth and went out of the palace, to live among the people. He started to solve their problems, show them compassion, offer them wisdom, nurture their sick until they are healed, and the like.
The people loved this man so much, since they had never seen someone so wonderful. They were fed up with their king, and wanted this man to become their king.
One day they seized him, and carried him to the palace shouting, ‘Long live the king’, and placed him on the throne. He took off his simple cloth, and told them, “I truly am the king. Now you know me and know my love for you.”
The Lord gave the same response to Philip, one of the twelve disciples, when he was asked, “Lord, show us the Fr., and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Fr.; so how can you say, Show us the Fr.? Do you not believe that I am in the Fr., and the Fr. in Me?” (Jn. 14: 8-10), therefore the Fr., the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God.