The crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian Gospel. In Orthodoxy, these earthly events are given an eternal significance by the fact that it is the incarnate God the Word who lived and died for us. The crucifixion in itself is not the significant event. Many righteous men and women were put to death by various means through history. Their deaths did not ontologically change creation, for they died as all mortals die.
It is Who is crucified that makes all the difference in the world (and in heaven too!). It is not just any man who dies on the cross for us – rather it is the God-man. It is God the Son, incarnate in Jesus Christ who dies on the cross for our sins who is resurrected from the dead for our salvation. In Christ, God and creation, heaven and earth, the spiritual world and the physical world, are united, and so are the dead and the living. All things become united in Christ, restored to their God-given natural beauty.
In this entire week after Pascha, known as Bright Week we celebrate each day as if it were the same day, the day of resurrection, the Eighth Day, the Pascha of the Lord.
“The key point here is that faith is not a form of interpretation, one perspective among others, but a seeing of what there is to see, and hence a form of knowing. Recall the opening words of the First Epistle of John: ‘We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seem with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us…’ First John states the primal truth that Christian faith rests on witness to what has happened in history, hence the honored place of the martyrs (witnesses) in Christian memory. Yet the witness to what was ‘seen’ is never a testimony simply of what has happened in the past. In his Commentary on 1 John, St. Augustine noted a curious feature of its opening words. John does not simply say that he is bearing witness to what he has seen and touched; he says that he is bearing witness to the ‘Word of Life’. It does not escape Augustine that the phrase ‘Word of Life’ does not refer to the body of Christ which could be seen and handled. ‘The life itself has been manifested in flesh – that what can be seen by the heart along might be seen also by the eyes for the healing of hearts. Only by the heart is the Word seen; flesh is seen by bodily eyes. We had the means of seeing the flesh, but not of seeing the Word: the Word was made flesh which we could see, that the heart, by which we should see the Word, might be healed.’” (Robert L. Wilken, Remembering the Christian Past, pp 56-57)
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