Saturday, August 18, 2007

St. Athanasius on the Cross

.... But if any honest Christian wants to know why He suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He "become a curse" (Gal. 3. 13) otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." ( Gal. 3. 13. ) Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it "the middle wall of partition" ( Eph. 2. 14 ) is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? …For it was not the Word Himself Who needed an opening of the gates, He being Lord of all, nor was any of His works closed to their Maker. No, it was we who needed it, we whom He Himself upbore in His own body - that body which He first offered to death on behalf of all, and then made through it a path to heaven.

St. Athanasius, The Incarnation of the Word of God , Chp. 4 ¶ 25.

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