A Series of Dialogues on the Creed
March 2020 | Issue No. 8
The event of Christ’s crucifixion was a measure of God’s exceeding love towards the human race, and that is why we proclaim that “He was crucified for us”, that is on behalf of us all, the sinners
By H H Pope Tawadros II
Why then, did the Master Christ, to Him be the Glory choose crucifixion particularly as a means of death?
Before all else, the Master Christ did not choose for Himself the manner of death rather it was the Jews who chose the cross when they cried out to Pilate “Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-15). As for why redemption was accomplished by the way of the cross, St Athanasius summarises the reasons in the following points:
- In order for death to occur publicly before witnesses so that there can be certainty over the resurrection which was to follow.
- In order to preserve his body in perfect soundness and undivided according to the prophecies.
- In order to die while holding out his hands to unite the Jews and gentiles in Himself.
- In order to be lifted up from the earth, drawing us to Himself (John 12:32).
- In order to clear the air from evil spirits, granting us victory over them (Eph. 2:2).
- In order to fulfil the prophecies which were set forth concerning the necessity of the crucifixion (Ps. 22:16; Isa. 53).
- In order to bear the curse laid upon us, for it was written “for everyone that is hanged on a tree is cursed of God” (Deut. 21:23).
Is the Cross of importance to the whole of humanity?
The importance of the Cross and its value comes from the salvation which was accomplished by the Master Christ when He tasted death of His own will. By salvation, we mean salvation from sin, its dominion, and its traces, not only with respect to the past only but the present and future of the life of all men. This matter is connected with the bigger issue that concerns all mankind, the issue of forgiveness.
From this perspective, the Cross became the glory and boasting of every Christian (Gal. 6:14), with all the humiliation, degradation, shame and disgrace that it entails. It is Christianity’s unique mark of distinction, which cannot be found in other religions.
Is this why we say, “He was crucified for us”?
Yes, for this statement means that the Master Christ was not deserving of the Cross, but that He came to the Crucifixion of His own free will to save us. Every deed and work that was done by Christ was truly very great and marvellous. However, the most noble of them was His Holy Cross, for, by the Cross, everything was made right. Sin was destroyed, death was denied, and the resurrection was bestowed upon all who believe in Him. The event of Christ’s crucifixion was a measure of God’s exceeding love towards the human race, and that is why we proclaim that “He was crucified for us”, that is on behalf of us all, the sinners.
What did the Master Christ accomplish on the Cross?
In the Theotokia (praise) of Friday, we chant the following refrain, which sums up what the Master Christ accomplished:
“He took what is ours and gave us what is His. We praise and glorify Him and exalt Him.”
- His taking of the curse which came upon Adam on account of his fall (Gen. 3:7), carrying it on our behalf, granting that we may be made the righteousness of God (innocent) (2 Cor. 5:21).
- His taking of the death, of which Adam was deserving from the day of his disobedience (Gen.2:17) and His granting us the Resurrection after He had defeated death (1 Cor. 15:26).
- His taking of our life, with all the weakness and leanings towards sin that it entails, and His bestowing upon His Holy Spirit, and the ability of being victorious overall weakness and sins (Eph. 2:6).