April 10, 2015 Length: 4:20
We can summarize salvation in three words: Christ is Risen! Salvation, our participation in God's true and eternal life, only happens in the divine-human person of Christ. He took on all that is ours so we could have all that is His.
Salvation can be summarized in three words: Christ is Risen!
The most important thing to realize about Salvation is that it happens in Christ. Ever year, during Holy Week, on Great Friday, we observe the crucifixion of Christ. He died, just like everybody eventually dies. His body and soul were separated from each other. His body ended up in the tomb, and his soul ended up in Hades. Hades is the literal dead-end, that awaited every human being from Adam and Eve, down to Christ.
Everyone, rich and poor, holy and not-so-holy, ended up trapped in this terrible state. It was a consequence of the Fall. By separating themselves from God, the source of life, Adam and Eve sentenced themselves to death.
We normally think of death as the separation of soul and body, but in reality death is a lot worse. Death is annihilation, the descent into the non-existence from which we were created. We can see this when a person dies: as the body begins to break down and decompose, the same kind of thing happens to the soul, too. Apart from God, it begins to fade away, and return to nothingness.
This is what we see at the bottom of the resurrection icon, a vision of death, the darkness, and loneliness, and despair of Hades. As Father George Florovsky says, “Hades is just the darkness and shadow of death… a dark sheol, a place of hopeless disembodiment and disincarnation… a kind of ontological infirmity of the soul… the helplessness of the fallen and wounded nature.” Though, as Father George clarifies just a few sentences later, Hades isn’t a place at all, it’s a state. Hades isn’t a place souls would go, it’s the state of disconnection and disappearance, a bottom-most pit of annihilation from which nothing would return. At least it was such a state, until Christ entered Hades and destroyed it.
This is we, as we talked about a few weeks ago, it’s so important that the one person of Christ is both fully human, and fully divine. Since Christ is fully human, He joined us in death, He joined us in our terrifying slide towards non-existence, in our lowest, and weakest, and most lonely state. Yet, when Christ died, Hades wasn’t claiming just another human soul; Hades was claiming the human soul of the Son of God.
And, since God is the source of life, death had no power over Christ. Death couldn’t contain the Son of God. Hades couldn’t contain his human soul, and the tomb couldn’t contain his human body.
So, when Christ, who is fully human and fully divine, rises, we rise with Him!
That’s why icons of the Resurrection don’t simply show a trampling Christ all by Himself, they always show Christ pulling Adam and Eve, who represent all of humanity, out of death with Him.
The Fall, and our separation from God left us with a sick and broken human nature, one we couldn’t heal on our own. Our bodies were powerless to escape decay in the grave, and our souls were powerless to escape the descent into nothingness, in Hades.
God chose to fix that, in an intimate and loving way, by inviting us into his life, and this happens specifically in the divine-human person of Christ.
As St. Cyril of Alexandria puts it, “In short, he took what was ours to be his very own so that we might have all that was his.”
Christ shared in our death, so we could share in His life. He died with us, so we could rise with Him, so we could rise into true life, authentic life, life with Him, without end. No longer helpless creatures, trapped by sin and death, but rather transformed into the children of God, resurrected into the life and joy of Christ. So, let’s Be the Bee, and celebrate our Resurrection and Salvation in Christ!