My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead,
how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the
dead? But IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD,
THEN CHRIST IS NOT RISEN. And if Christ is not risen, then
OUR PREACHING IS ALSO EMPTY. Yes, and we are found false
witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He
RAISED UP CHRIST, WHOM HE DID NOT RAISE UP–IF IN FACT
THE DEAD DO NOT RISE. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ
has not risen. And if Christ is not risen, YOUR FAITH IS FUTILE;
YOU ARE STILL IN YOUR SINS! Then also those who have
fallen alseep in Christ have perished. In in this life only we have
hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ
IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, AND HAS BECOME THE FIRST-FRUITS
OF THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP. For since by man came
death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in
Adam all die, EVEN SO IN CHRIST ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE."
[1 Corinthians 15:12-22]
What is Christianity without THE RESURRECTION–both Christ’s and ours? His death does us no good without it. What use is forgiveness if we remain dead? His Disciples were TRANSFORMED by His RESURRECTION; and this they preached above all. On All-Holy Pascha morning Orthodox Christians chant, "CHRIST IS RISEN FROM DEAD, TRAMPLING DOWN DEATH BY DEATH, AND UPON THOSE IN THE TOMBS BESTOWING LIFE." As "the firstfruits" in the Old Testament were consecrated to God representative of the promise of later fruits [Exodus 23:16], so the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ from the dead IS THE FIRST OFFERING OF THE RESURRECTION OF ALL WHO ARE His. "But each one in his own order Christ: Christ THE FIRSTFRUITS, afterward those who are Christ’s coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23).
The RESURRECTION OF THE LORD is the RENEWAL OF HUMAN NATURE, AND THE RENEWAL, RE-CREATION AND RETURN TO IMMORTALITY OF THE FIRST ADAM WHO WAS SWALLOWED UP BY DEATH BECAUSE OF SIN, AND THROUGH DEATH WENT BACK TO THE EARTH FROM WHICH HE WAS FORMED. In the beginning, nobody saw Adam being made and brought to life, for no one existed yet at that time. However, once he had received THE BREATH OF LIFE BREATHED INTO HIM BY GOD (Genesis 2:7), a woman was the first to see him, for Eve WAS THE FIRST HUMAN BEING AFTER HIM. In that same way no one saw the Second Adam, THAT IS THE LORD, RISING FROM THE DEAD, SINCE NONE OF HIS DISCIPLES WERE PRESENT AND THE SOLDIERS KEEPING THE TOMB HAD BEEN SHAKEN WITH FEAR AND BECAME LIKE DEAD MEN. But after the RESURRECTION it was a woman who saw Him first of all, as we hear in Saint Mark’s Gospel, "Now when Jesus", it says, "was risen early THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, He APPEARED FIRST TO Mary Magdalene" (Mark 16:9).
The very preaching of the holy Apostles, is, in its essence, THE PREACHING OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. It is clear that in the mystery of REDEMPTION, "the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord ARE INSEPARABLE." in the consciousness of the Church this Truth is expressed in full measure in the Paschal hymns, which confess THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST not only for the personal salvation of the Christian but also in the FINAL, COMPLETE JUSTIFICATION OF THE WORLD: "Passover of incorruption, salvation of the world" [Exapostelarion hymn of Pascha]. "By the Cross" has been accomplished the cleansing of the sins of the world, THE RECONCILIATION WITH GOD; "BY THE RESURRECTION NEW LIFE " HAS BEEN BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD.
The TOTALITY of the consequence of the Cross and Resurrection are usually expressed by the holy Apostles, and therefore in theological terminology also, by the single concept of "REDEMPTION," which literally signifies a "RANSOM," an offering of payment. Saint John Damascene explains how Christ offered Himself AS A RANSOM FOR US WHEN He died on the Cross: "Since our Lord Jesus Christ was WITHOUT SIN (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was any deceit found in his mouth" (cf. Isaah 53:9; John 1:29), He WAS NOT SUBJECT TO DEATH, SINCE DEATH CAME INTO THE WORLD THROUGH SIN" (Romans 5:12). He dies, therefore, because He took on HImself death ON OUR BEHALF, AND HE MAKES HIMSELF AN OFFERING TO THE FATHER FOR OUR SAKES."
The RESURRACTION OF CHRIST IS "THE FOUNDATION AND TEH CROWN OF OUR Orthodox Christian faith." The Resurrection of Christ is the first, most important, great Truth, with the proclamation of which the holy Apostles began their preaching of the Gospel after the DESCENT of the Holy Spirit. Just as by the death of Christ on the Cross our Redemption was accomplished, so by His Resurrection "ETERNAL LIFE WAS GIVEN TO US." Therefore, the Resurrection of Christ is the object of the Church constant TRIUMPH, ITS UNCEASING REJOICING, WHICH IS THE SUMMIT IN THE Feast of the Holy Christian Pascha–"Today all creation is glad and rejoices, for Christ has risen!" (Canon of Pascha, Canticle 9).
The Saving Fruits of the Resurrection of Christ are:
(a) the VICTORY OVER HELL AND DEATH; (b) the Blessedness of the Saints in heaven and the beginning of the existence of the Heavenly Church ("Church Triumphant"); and (c) the SENDING DOWN of the Holy Spirit and the creation of the Church of Christ on earth. The Resurrection of Christ IS THE PLEDGE OF OUR RESURRECTION: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; but every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming" (I Corinthians 15:22-23). After this, DEATH WILL BE UTTERLY ANNIHILATED. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Speaking of Christ’s Resurrection, Saint John Damascene writes that "Through His (RISEN) BODY, the Lord has granted the resurrection and concequent incorruptibility to our body, also. Himself becoming the firstfruits of the resurrection and incorruptibility and impassibility." According to Saint Nicholas Cabasilas, death was the last barrier separating man from God, and that Christ broke down this barrier through His Resurrection. Saint Gregory Palamas writes: "By means of the one death and Resurrection of His flesh, He HEALED OUR TWOFOLD DEATH (i.e., SPIRITUAL AND BODILY) and freed us from our double captivity of SOUL and BODY" (Homilies, vol. 1, p.196). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Glorious Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God