The Cross of Christ: The Path, the Power and the Banner of the Church (Part II)

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE HOLY AND LIFE-GIVING CROSS

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn in First Mode

Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by Your Cross.

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THE CROSS OF CHRIST: THE PATH, THE POWER, AND THE BANNER OF THE CHURCH (Part II)
[Source: The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pamazansky ]

The sign of the Cross that we place upon ourselves or depict on ourselves by the movement of the hand is made in silence, but at the same time it is said loudly, because it is an open confession of our faith.

Thus, with the Cross is bound up the whole grandeur of our redemption, which reminds us of the necessity or personal struggle for the Christian. In the representation of the Cross, even in its name, is summed up the whole history of the Gospel, as also the history of martyrdom and the confession of Christianity in all ages.

Reflecting deeply on the wealth of thoughts bound up with the Cross, the Church hymns the power of the Cross: "O invincible and incomprehensible and Divine power of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, forsake not us sinners."

In explaining why Christians venerate the Cross, Saint John Damascene sums up what had been accomplished through the Cross, which, as he says, is a term denoting the death of Christ: "Every action of Christ and all His working of miracles were truly great and Divine and wonderful, but of all things the most wonderful is His Honorable Cross. For by nothing else except the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ had death been brought low, the sin of our first parents destroyed, hell plundered, resurrection bestowed, the power given us to despise the things of this world and even death itself, the road back to the former blessedness made smooth, the gates of Paradise opened, our nature seated at the right hand of God, and we made children and heirs of God. By the Cross all things have been set aright. For "as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ", says the Apostle, "were baptized into His death" (Romans 6:3), and "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27): moreover, "Christ is the power and wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24). See how the death of Christ, the Cross, that is to say, has clothed us with the subsistent wisdom and power of God" (Exact Exposition 4:11).

THE TRIPLE MINISTRY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

The systems of dogmatic theology, following the ancient custom, in order to gain a fuller illumination of the whole work of salvation accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, view it most often from three aspects, namely (a) the High-Priestly Ministry of the Lord, (b) His Prophetic Ministry, and (c) His Royal Ministry. These three aspects are called the triple ministry of the Lord.

The common feature of the three ministries, the Prophetic, the High-Priestly, and the Royal, is that in the Old Testament the calling to these three ministries was accompanied by anointing with oil, and those who worthily passed through these ministries were strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The very name "Christ" signifies "Anointed One." (The name "Jesus" signifies "Savior.") The Lord Himself referred to Himself the words of the Prophet Isaiah when He read them in the Synagogue at Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord " (St. Luke 4:18-19).

A.    Christ the High Priest

The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the Lamb of God Who is offered as a sacrifice for the life of the world; He is at the same time also He Who offers, the Performer of the Sacrifice, the High Priest. Christ is "He Who offereth and is offered; that accepteth and is distributed" (the secret prayer at the Cherubic Hymn in the Divine Liturgy). He Himself is offered as a sacrifice, and He Himself also offers the sacrifice. He Himselth both receives it and distributes it to those who come.

The Lord expressed His High-Priestly Ministry on earth in its highest degree in the prayer to His Father which is called "the High-Priestly Prayer," which was pronounced after the farewell conversation with His disciples in the night when He was taken by the soldiers: "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified in the Truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word" (St. John 17:19-20). He expressed it likewise in the prayer in solitude in the garden of Gethsemane.

The Apostle Paul interprets the High-Priestly Ministry of Christ in his Epistle (Letter) to the Hebrews (chapters 5 to 10). He juxtaposes the High-Priestly Ministry of Christ with the Ministry of the Old Testament high priests and shows that the Priesthood of Christ incomparably surpasses it:

There were many high priests according to the order of Aaron, since death did not allow there to be only one but his One, according to the order of Melchisedek, as remaining eternally, has a priesthood that does not pass away (Hebrews 7:23-28).

Those high priests had to offer sacrifice constantly; but Christ performed the Sacrifice once, offering Himself as the sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27).

Those high priests themselves were clothed with infirmity; but this High Priest is perfect forevermore (Hebrews 7:28).

Those were priests of the earthly tabernacle made by hands; but this One is the Sacred Performer of the Eternal Tabernacle not made with hands (Hebrews 9:24).

Those high priests entered into the holy place with the blood of calves and goats; but this One with His Own Blood entered once into the Holy Place and obtained an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).

They were priests of the Old Testament; whereas this One is Priest of the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6).

(To be continued)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-St. John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George