Homily by Dr Shawn Smith
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
The resurrection is God’s eternal declaration translated into fulfilled time. God’s conclusion is our inclusion. The Logos, the very inner Logic of God Himself, the relational principle from which the cosmos originates entered into the contingent creation and took on our form. He denied our denial of Him. In our stubbornness and unbelief, we have all wandered from Him, and to confirm our non-participation in our Creator’s purpose, we created idols of God in our own image. Not only of stone and wood, but of the devices of our minds. We projected, by means of our wicked works, a sense of separation from God, just as the first created, Adam and his wife, our common ancestors according to the tradition, hid from the Inescapable One, whose love had found them even before creation. They attempted to hide behind bushes and cover their nakedness with aprons made of fig leaves, of the working of their own hands. They tried to earn what was already theirs.
The first question ever uttered from the mouth of God – and when the Omniscient asks a question, it is not information He is seeking: “Adam where art thou?” He was asking Adam to behold the height from which he had fallen. The son of God, appointed as cosmic priest over the whole creation, now hiding because of his wicked work. What was his work? Attempting to become like God whereas he was already like Him. The original sin is the sin against origins. It is ignorance of our true being; it is the denial of what God has said concerning us. It is not the eating of a fruit because Christ tells us that what enters a man does not defile a man, but the devices and the intents of the heart are what can defile a man.
The primordial sin of our ancestors is an archetype of thinking antithesis to God, denying the truth of our being, attempting to live in disharmony with the One who created us for union. And from this discord, vertically, from man to God, we behold a separation, a disharmony between man and woman representing an unbalance within creation. We were designed for happiness and joy. When we deny the truth of our being, we are denying that which we have attempted to search our whole lives. True happiness is another Name for God Himself – the Makarios God, the Happy God.
In sorrow, thorns and thistles grew on the earth not as God’s curse to man but as a result of man’s sorrow in turning from God.
In the fullness of times, Christ was born of a woman, made under the Law to redeem those who were under the Law that we might receive the adoption of sons. The Logos, the Origin of the cosmos, the Eternal Son, face-to-face with the Father, the One from whom we were designed to bear the image of God and reflect His relationship with the Father, He assumed our nature, made it His own, became what we were and suffered our sorrow. He entered into our darkness and synergized the human will with the will of God, obeying where Adam disobeyed. The three implements of the fall were recapitulated. Those three elements being the woman who was used to partake of the tree resulting in death. Christ came through the womb of a woman, the Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, and climbed upon the tree, which He calls His glorification. He takes the very death that our sin has produced, enters into it in solidarity, on our behalf.
The gospel announces an astonishing summon to acknowledge what God knows of us all, to willingly participate in God’s eternal Yes, to reaccept our acceptance. He gives us the greatest gift, the Giver making Himself the Gift. Ultimately, the Gospel announces that surpassing all other creaturely forms of what God can give, He has given us Himself. It is not a static giving of Him standing afar from us; He becomes what we are, co-suffers to reveal a radical forgiveness eternally given even before the fall. In the words of Peter, the Apostle, He is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. That is the Jewish way of saying He had given us His eternal love and was willing to face any consequence of us rejecting Him. Even if it meant entering into our own nature to join what is the nature of man to the nature of God, suffer the consequence of our fall, deny our rejection of Him, and cause us to surpass even our origin.
The un-assumed is the unhealed but whatever Divinity touches is healed to the uttermost. I share with you a mystery: The Immutable God is impassable; He cannot die. But the Eternal Son of God, of one essence with the Father, joins to His one Person our human nature, which had fallen into mortality, and by means of this humanity, God Himself descends into death. He enraged sin, death, hell and the grave, which could not contain the uncircumscribed God, and on the third day, death lost its tyranny over the human nature, undoing and abolishing all that had happened in the fall.
Immortality came as a result of God descending into human mortality. He broke the pattern of mortality in the first Adam, and in this, there is a communion of natures. Just as how the blacksmith, once he has put the iron into the furnace and it has caught aflame, we cannot discern where the fire begins and where it ends, or where the iron begins and where it ends. The iron remains iron but it is mystically united with the fire. In the hypostatic union of Christ, though human, we are now beyond human; not in anything of ourselves but because of Him. In the uncreated energies known as Grace, we participate in the Life that is beyond ourselves. Our darkness is dispelled, our ignorance, our selfishness, our egotistical tendencies, for God reveals in Christ the archetype of the true image, the design of our creation.
The term “redeem” comes from the Greek word “lutron”. It means to loosen, to set free, to deliver. Unfortunately, many translations have put this as “a ransom”, a payment. I was thinking recently from the Koine Greek usage of the word. The death of Christ is God by means of His humanity dropping into the very regions where we were kept captive, to conduct a rescue mission. Why pay ransom to the captor when you can take him out? “Lutron” speaks of a liberation. Christ died to enter the lower regions, the netherworld, the world of death and of hell, by means of death to abolish death itself. As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He likewise took part of the same, that by death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, to deliver them who through their whole lifetime were in bondage, held captive to fear. Why pay ransom to the captor when you have the opportunity to eliminate the source of tyranny? This is what Christ did.
On the third day, His resurrection reveals that in entering into death, He had taken the very weapon used against man to destroy its source. Just as David who, after slinging a stone into Goliath’s forehead, used Goliath’s own sword to behead him, God used death, which came as a result of our sin, to destroy death. As the ancient fathers tell us, Christ in His humanity was the bait, His divinity was the hook, and the temptation of death to swallow the humanity of Christ resulted in its own end. God trapped death and by death itself, brings an end to death, transforming it into a glorious new beginning.
God announced in Isaiah 52:3, speaking to His ancient people: “You were sold for nothing but you will be redeemed without any payment.” Christ’s death was not a transaction; it was a rescue mission and from the resurrection, the ascension and session, He has taken all of humanity safely home.
Christ is victorious! He has rescued us from what is adverse. The cross is God’s descent into Hades to rescue the human race. The resurrection announces that death is denied. Our sin has been superseded by God’s eternal forgiveness, and on the third day, something unprecedented is inaugurated. The empty tomb becomes the new womb of creation, unprecedented, a new species: the God of Love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all humanity together.
He who was dead says to John the Theologian, “I am He who was dead, but behold, I live forevermore. I hold in my hands the keys of death and hell.” What do you think He is going to do with that?