Why did Christ have to die?

The answer to this question is very important to our understanding of salvation and exactly what Christ did for us.  If we look at Adam and Eve and their creation, we can see that God created them to have the promise of eternal life in paradise.  But when they disobeyed Him by partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they broke the promise that they had with God and caused their own death and the death of all humankind.  Adam and Eve were co-equally guilty of this breach of promise.

Throughout history God sent prophets to the Jewish people to tell them of Christ's coming and give them rules by which to live their lives.  According to His will, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to come and live with humankind.  Christ experienced all of the things that humans experience: love, joy, pain, sorrow, anger, and even death.  We believe that through man, sin came into the world, and through sin came death.  And we also believe that through Christ, the power of sin and death can be eliminated.

Christ taught about God and led the people away from the false teachings of idolatry, and pointed out the hypocrisy of the scribes and pharisees.  Jealous of Christ's popularity, the scribes and pharisees tried and sentenced Him to death.  But these enemies did not know that His Death was the will of the Father, and is part of the plan of our salvation.  Christ went willingly to His death even though He knew that He would suffer pain and humiliation.  He did this because He loves us, and no longer wanted to see us as slaves to sin and death.  He opened a path for all people to be resurrected from the dead.  Christ died so that we could have victory over death also.

He did this because He is the One Who created life, and has ultimate control over life and death.  After dying on the cross, He descended to Hades like every other person who died, but, because He is God, He was able to break the bonds of sin and death.  In other words, He paid the ransom for our captivation to sin and death with His own life.

Finally, we should remember that Christ, Who is our creator and the creator of the world, came, lived with us, and died in order to save us.  Had He not died, and conquered death, then we could not be resurrected and live eternally with our Heavenly Father.

Synopsis of Holy Week Services

Holy Monday
The Fig Tree and the Blessed Joseph
(sung on Palm Sunday Evening)

How Jesus cursed a barren fig tree, a usually fruitful tree, to wither and die (Matthew 21:18-20).  A warning to those who fail to bear spiritual fruits in response to the gifts of God's grace.  And how Joseph was rejected and betrayed by his brothers, yet was glorified by the Lord (Genesis 37: 39-40)

Holy Tuesday
The Ten Virgins
(sung on Holy Monday Evening)

Jesus tells us to be spiritually prepared to receive the Lord with His parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) of which five were ready to receive the Bride-groom with their oil-filled lamps, and the other five who left their lamps empty of oil until the last moment and were turned away from their Lord.  This parable also tells us that spiritual preparedness cannot be conveniently borrowed or given.  We must each properfully and fully use God's gifts.

The Hymn of Kassiani
(sung on Holy Tuesday Evening)

The love and repentance of the sinful woman who anoints Jesus is remembered with this beautiful, moving hymn which was written by a nun named Kassiani in the 9th century and was incorporated into the Holy Week Canons by the 10th century.  Along with Kassiani we identify ourselves with the repentant woman in her heartfelt words to Jesus.

Holy Wednesday
The Sacrament of Holy Unction

(Service given to the Faithful on Holy Wednesday Evening)

We are anointed for our physical and spiritual healing and the forgiveness of our sins, in preparation for our receiving Holy Communion tomorrow.

Holy Thursday
Commemoration of the Last Supper
(Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday Morning)

We celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great in commemoration of Jesus Christ's offering us His Holy Body and His Holy Blood for the remission of our sins and for our Life Everlasting.  Christ is the the Offerer and the Offered, Who accepts and is distributed for the forgiveness of our sins.

Holy Friday
The Passion
(sung on Holy Thursday Evening)

This service features Twelve Gospel Readings that take us step by step through the washing of the Disciple's feet, the Last Supper, Judas' Betrayal, and the Agony in the Garden through the sufferings of our Lord on the cross.

The Day of Mourning
(sung on Friday in Vigil - re-living the Passion)
Hour One
Hour Three
Hour Six
Hour Nine
Joseph of Arimathea removes Christ's Body from the Cross and provides a Sepulchre for His Body

Holy Saturday
Lamentation and Hope [sung on Friday Evening]

The burial of Christ and His descent to Hades is lamented as the Epitaphios is taken in a candlelight procession around the nave and through the Narthex to the outdoors and then back through the Narthex into the Nave and back to the Solea.  In so doing this procession, we eagerly look forward to the promise and joy of the Life-Giver's Resurrection.

Watchful Expectation
The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
(Service performed on Saturday morning)

We survey the beauty of God's Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, we behold the completed prophecies and the repentance of the three Hebrews who were placed into one of the hottest ovens, but who were spared by our Merciful God, and thusly we, in our repentance, give praise to Him in similar manner to the three Hebrews.  We then eagerly anticipate the Holy Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ with the joyful hymn "Arise O God".  Then we draw near in Faith and Love and especially with the Fear of God to partake of Holy Communion for the remission of our sins.

Continuation of Lamentations
(sung Saturday Evening 11:00 P.M.)

The burial of Christ and His descent to Hades is lamented again but with even more eager anticipation of the promise and joy of the Life-Giver's Resurrection.

Holy Pascha Sunday, May 1, 2005
The Resurrection Service and Divine Liturgy
(Saturday at Midnight)

Christos Anesti!  (Christ is Risen!) The Light of Christ is distributed to all the Faithful and we thus chant: Christ is Risen from the dead, by Death destroying death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing Life.  We Celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and hear his sermon preserved intact throughout the centuries which extolls this great Festival and also tells us that all are saved who come in even at the 11th hour!  His Resurrection heralds the end of our alienation and solitude.  We are moved by His Love where He offered Himself as Sacrifice for us.  His death, we realize, is the ultimate revelation of His compassion and love for us.  He invites us to participate with repentance in this joy by receiving Holy Communion.

Agape Service
Sunday Vespers

The joys of Holy `Pascha are shared by the Faithful.  The promise of the Renewed Jerusalem and Earth plus the establishment of His Holy Eternal Kingdom on earth is celebrated.

Truly, Christ is Risen!

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