The Incarnation of the Word

 “He was rich but he became poor for our sake, so that we might be enriched by His poverty.” (2 Cor. 8:9)

He took what was ours to be His very own so that we might have all that was His.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8)

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, sin entered into the world and the condemnation of death came upon them as well as all their descendants. “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Given the consequences of this sin, there were certain requirements that needed to be fulfilled to redeem man who had sin and death reigning over him.

  • Sacrifice – “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and God told Adam, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Therefore, in order to fulfill the Divine Justice, there needed to be shedding of blood. St. Paul states this clearly when he writes: “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).
  •  Sinless – The sacrifice needed to be unblemished and without sin. If that sacrifice had committed sin, then it too would need atonement for its sins since it falls under the same condemnation of death. St. Paul writes about our Lord Jesus Christ: “but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
  • Human – Since it was the human being who disobeyed God, it was necessary that the sinless sacrifice be of the same level by being a human being, yet without sin.
  • Free Will – Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of their own free will and by submitting their rational mind under the subjection of their own desires. St. Basil writes concerning this: “Because of this he also sinned through wicked free choice, and he died through the sin. ‘For the wages of sin is death’ (Rom. 6:23).

To the extent that he withdrew from life, he likewise drew near to death. For God is life, and the privation of life is death. Therefore, Adam prepared death for himself through his withdrawal from God, in accord with what is written, ‘Behold, those who remove themselves from you are destroyed’ (Ps 72:27). Thus God did not create death, but we brought it upon ourselves by a wicked intention.

St. Athanasius summarizes these requirements when he writes: “The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die.

For this reason, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required.

His Body and Blood are the continuation of that Sacrifice in the Church for salvation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.