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