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April 29, 2016

The Trilogy of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

By Metropolitan Daniel of Kaisariani, Vyronas and Hymettus

We find ourselves before the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Church invites us to venerate the revered Passion of our Redeemer and Savior, and considering the cause, to pursue the reasons why it took place and why it was necessary.

We take recourse to the divinely-inspired Scriptures, which informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, was sacrificed and died for the following reasons:

1. He suffered and died as a sacrifice for us.

The law of God foresees that its offense causes painful consequences that are unavoidable to the offender.

But God has not imposed these consequences as punishments. They emerged according to the choice of the offender of the divine commandments. For this reason He acted to eliminate these consequences by sacrificing His first-born, only-begotten and beloved Son, who in the time of the Old Testament is called by the Prophet Isaiah in an honorary fashion a Servant, which means the Chosen of God.

From the time of the Old Testament a problem arose: how is it possible for one chosen by God to suffer, to be troubled, to be humiliated, to be debilitated?

A reply to this deep problem is given by the Prophet Isaiah, who explains that Christ would not suffer because He infringed the laws of God, nor because He would be punished by God, but He would suffer on our behalf:

"Surely He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed" (Is. 53:4-5).

In the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ this verse is referred to by Matthew the Evangelist as well:

"This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases'" (Matt. 8:17).

The Passion of God's chosen one was incomprehensible to the Jews who considered it a scandal, as the Apostle Paul explains:

"But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1:23).

2. He suffered to give us an example to follow Him.

To imitate Him in self-sacrifice, in fortitude, in patience, in long-suffering, in forbearance, in forgiveness, in beneficence, as the Apostle Paul states:

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).

3. He suffered that we may die to our sins and live in the will of God.

Since sin brought about such terrible consequences which nobody can withstand, the Lord came to help us defeat sin and to keep the will of God as expressed in His salvific commandments.

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).

The help offered by our Lord Jesus Christ does not have a moral character as many perceive, but an existential character.

It is a new birth, a new existence, a new state of being. All these things are developed and analyzed by the Apostle Paul in his letters.

"Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Col. 2:12-15).

Essentially it is by human will that we form the ethos of our life, our morals, and our Lord Jesus Christ renews our existence by the grace of the Holy Spirit acting within the Mysteries of our Church.

The hope of our salvation.

With His Passion, His Death and the sacrifice of His life He assumed responsibility for all of our sins. Those who recognize this sacrifice of His with which He dealt with sin and accept it with gratitude will forever be relieved of any responsibility.

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28).

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.