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Image by Greg Rosenke




         After creating various entities for five consecutive days, the Holy Trinity proclaimed on the morning of the sixth day (Friday), "Let Us make man in Our image and likeness" (Genesis 1:26). One might wonder how the Holy Trinity could speak in plural terms. The Holy Trinity is ingenious, communicative, and eternal. Similarly, Adam was created to be ingenious, and communicative, and to possess eternal life. Just as the Holy Trinity has a definitive image, so does Adam. The Holy Trinity is personified with the heart, the spoken word, and breath; likewise, man has a heart, speaks, and His breath. The Holy Trinity, ruling over Adam due to the essence (nature) of Their Deity, granted Adam dominion over creation by grace.


     Adam, endowed with such grace and created in the image of the Holy Trinity, became the agent through whom Sataniel (Satan), who had previously lost his place due to pride, was shamed, and through whom God’s perfect Divine wisdom was manifested. This wisdom of God was reflected in man because he was created as clear as a drinking glass, as marvelous as flowers, and because he was created wisely. God granted Adam dominion over all creations in the four corners. "He created Eve from his body to assist him. He placed them in the beloved eastward, in the Garden of Eden. (The Garden of Eden is said to be eastward because it has four corners.) He gave them everything without restriction so that they would delight in all that can be received from God." After all this, He issued a command concerning only one tree. This tree was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating from it meant knowledge of evil, whereas abstaining meant knowledge of good. It symbolized the distinction between the ruler and the ruled. Those who would eat from it would face death; hence, they were instructed not to eat from it.


Transgressing God’s Laws:

   After residing in the Garden of Eden for seven years, Adam and Eve defied the command by consuming the fruit of the forbidden tree, thereby bringing death upon themselves. Our forefather Adam was condemned to die due to his transgression. As he heeded Satan's counsel and severed his bond with his Creator, he fell under Satan's dominion. He dwelled in gloom and sorrow in this world, mourning deeply for his fall into adversity. His grief was not for the loss of his noble place, comfort, and joy in the Garden of Eden, but for his ignoble act that grieved his Creator. This is why it is said that Adam had no cause for tears other than his sin.


         Condemned to die, Adam's body, formed from the earth's dust and enlivened by God's breath, was interred in a grave; his soul languished in Hades (Sheol). In bodily death, he encountered the death of the soul, and in being entombed, he descended into hell; he was surrendered to death. While animals, were created to gaze downward as they move, Adam was fashioned to stride upright, capable of looking up to the skies.

This signifies that animals are instinctually driven and decompose post-mortem, while man, bestowed with eternal life, is destined for eternal residence in heaven, as prepared by God. Nonetheless, man, though dignified and created in righteousness, succumbed to the grave. He was vanquished by death. Death persisted for years, decomposing and decaying Adam's body in the grave and tormenting his soul in Hades.


        Adam's descendants too fell into this snare of death. Death ensnared their souls in Hades and their bodies in the grave, leaving them in profound darkness devoid of any glimmer of hope. The learned Saint Athanasius, through the Holy Spirit, questions our forefather Adam regarding the death inflicted upon us due to the tree of knowledge: "Beloved Adam, how have we offended you that you have imposed the sentence of death upon us? What wrong have we done to you, dear Adam, that you have denied us the joy of dwelling in the Garden of Eden with our Lord? What wrong have we committed, dear Eve? Our bodies have darkened with excessive sin, whereas we were destined for a heavenly existence." (Saint Athanasius’ Divine Liturgy, numbers 28 & 29). As the sage articulated, through Adam, death entered the world; all his progeny were fated to die.


Redeemer of the World:

         No creation could nullify this dominion of death. As everyone was indebted and none, save our Lady, the Holy Virgin Mary, were unaffected by the debt from Adam's sin, mankind lacked the means to offer restitution. Nor did animals or angels possess the capacity to atone for Adam's sin of flesh and soul. It was precisely for this reason that God resolved to dispatch His Only-Begotten Son to the world. God intended that the death introduced to the world through the first Adam would be nullified through the second Adam, Christ. Out of love for humanity, He sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world. This is corroborated by the Apostle Saint John, who noted that God went to the extent of surrendering His Only-Begotten Son as the world's redeemer; He sent Him not to condemn the world, but to rescue it from its condemnation. The world was already under condemnation, thus His mission was not to castigate, but to liberate it. (John 3:15-17).


       One of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, descended to the world and incarnated to redeem mankind. He became a man. He manifested as the second Adam to expunge the transgressions of the first Adam. Apart from sin, He embodied all human characteristics. From His conception to His birth, during His nine-month and five-day sojourn in the womb, He never vacated His throne; post-birth, for thirty-three years and three months, He remained on His throne while concurrently being Man. Saint Jared (a hymnist and scholar who introduced the Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church chants) states this in one of his compositions, Anketse Birihan (a descriptor for the Holy Virgin Mary, meaning Bearer of the Light), "When they beheld their Lord, who sustains all creation in His palm and nourishes all creation, nestled beneath your arm and suckling at your breast, they discerned Him alongside His Father and the Holy Spirit in this realm, as it has always been." Even as He was adored by the heavenly hosts, He took on human form, becoming one and indivisible with our flesh through His profound wisdom, fully God while fully Man. We encountered the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, among us. Having revealed Himself and merged indissolubly with our flesh, He drew humanity nearer to Him through His teachings and miracles.



         Ultimately, He was crucified on a cross at Calvary and voluntarily succumbed to mortal demise for the sins of Adam. The flesh He assumed from our Lady, the Holy of Holies, Virgin Mary, without male intervention and devoid of anguish, was crucified. Joseph and Nicodemus enshrouded His body and laid it in a fresh tomb. Anxious that the prophecies about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would materialize, the Jews secured the tomb with Roman sentinels. The guards vigilantly watched the tomb to prevent the proclamation, "He rose on the third day." Although they colluded with the devil to perpetuate the reign of death, no being is invincible against the Creator, nor can any resist God's authority. The Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, triumphed over death and resurrected on the third day. Christ's resurrection elucidated the enigma that flesh shall rise post-mortem and live eternally, illuminating the hope of resurrection. As the inaugural resurrectee, He conferred resurrection upon us all. (1 Corinthians 15:20). What was beyond human capability was accomplished by the One manifested in flesh. His Divine might permanently nullify the dominion of death. Saint Cyril articulates in Haimanote Abew (a tome titled Faith of the Fathers), "He obliterated the triumph of death. Being Life and the Creator, the flesh is also His, and having perished in flesh, He resurrected post-demise and vanquished death; it is essential to recognize that He imparted to us the nature and essence of His Divinity. This act, signifying triumph over death and its power's annulment, is not a feat of the feeble like us. It transcends human capacity." (Faith of the Fathers 79:13).


The Resurrection of Christ:

        Even though Adam's body was decaying in the tomb, its power was temporarily curtailed, it ultimately gained strength and conquered death as it became inseparably unified with the nature of the Divinity. Christ, enduring in flesh, descended to the tomb, vanquished death with His Divinity and Divine authority, and bestowed victory upon the flesh to which He was eternally united. By donning human flesh, which had been humiliated, scorned, and crushed, He restored humanity to its esteemed station and honored it.

        Hence, the Resurrection serves as a reminder that death once wielded power. It recalls the Creator's immense benevolence. It assures us that, following Christ's exemplar, we too shall rise, rather than remain decayed and decomposed. This is why we venerate His Resurrection as a principal festival. The Old Testament narrates numerous resurrections (2 Kings 13:20-21). Nonetheless, none of these individuals nullified our death or eradicated its power. When they were resurrected through the intercessions of prophets, apostles, and God's grace, they lived for themselves. In truth, they reverted to the clutches of death from which they had momentarily escaped. However, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through His Divinity and Divine authority, eternally subdued death and transitioned from death to life.


Christ Our Passover Lamb:

       The Israelites (also known as Israelites in the flesh) have traditionally observed Passover since their exodus from Egypt, reminiscing the bitterness of their bondage. During this festival, they recalled the harsh life in Egypt, their forebears' tribulations and hardships. When God communicated with them through His prophets across various epochs, He reminded them, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2), emphasizing their liberation. In parallel, we, in the New Testament era, commemorate Easter (Fasika) in recognition of the ultimate liberation of the soul. We, the Christians (referred to as Israelites in spirit), celebrate this holiday in spiritual jubilation, emancipated from the bondage symbolized by Egypt, akin to Hades. Recollecting the afflictive life of Adam and his progeny during Holy Week (Semune Himamat), we observe Easter on Christian Sabbath Sunday. Christ is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). We affirm our liberation through the sufferings and demise of the Incarnate Word, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


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