The Savior’s Birth and Death

Christ is born!  Glorify Him! 


But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation. Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned… (Romans 5:8-12) 


The birth of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son incarnate, is God’s response to human sin. Through sin, death spread to all humans. All humans are mortal because of the effect of sin. God sends His Son into the world to destroy the power of sin and death. The Nativity of Christ is our salvation because it is about how God triumphs over death. Orthodox Theologian Theodore Stylianopoulos writes: 

Because the problem was corruption and death, and not merely the offense of transgression, for which divine forgiveness upon repentance would have sufficed, the only solution was the incarnation of the incorruptible and immortal Word. Christ therefore offered his own bodily temple as ‘substitute’ for all (antipsychon, literally ‘life for life’; cf. 4 Maccabees 6:28-29) and so, also being united to human nature, vanquished death and clothed humanity with incorruptible life. Athanasius celebrates with Paul by citing one Corinthians 15:53-55.


Thus for Athanasius – and here the Alexandrian father seems to follow the line of tradition going back to Irenaeus and to Paul – the supreme goal of Christ’s coming to earth was to overcome the condemnation (katadike) of death by his own death and resurrection, both of which are the ‘trophy’ or ‘monument’ (tropaion) of Christ victory over death. Athanasius seems to do justice to Paul’s concerns about human corruption and death but says nothing about the wrath of God or about justification of the sinner as forensic acquittal, despite the language about debt and substitution, language that apparently was used because of the pull of scripture.  (ENCOURAGED BY THE SCRIPTURES, p 125)


St Ephrem the Syrian poetically expresses the significance of the Word becoming flesh in Jesus Christ. By appearing as a human, God has made Himself and our salvation visible to us. The fact that we can make an icon of Christ is the visible sign of our salvation and that now we can see God. 

Glory be to that Powerful One  

who painted for himself 

a portrait for His majesty 

and an image for his invisibility. 

In the eye and in the mind, 

in both of them, we have seen Him.