|His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark-An excerpt from His Holiness’ book Words of Spiritual Benefit.
Death is an alien and a stranger to humanity. When God created man, He formed him for life; He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
God wished him life and perpetuity, but man’s choice was inclined towards sin. Man thus brought death upon himself as a result of his sin, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans6:23), and death came into the world and reigned over humanity.
We rejoice with the resurrection because it is a triumph over death and a return of man’s nature to life. God has created man to live and not to die.
Christ’s resurrection is the handsel of our resurrection, and thus, Saint Paul the apostle described Him as “…the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1Corinthians15:20) He is the first fruit and we will rise after him.
Perhaps someone may ask saying ‘How can Christ be the first fruit of the dead while many rose before Him?’ Examples of such people are:
1. The son of the widow of the town called Nain,
2. Jairus’ daughter, and
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
The angels proclaimed the news of Christ’s resurrection to the women saying, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen” (Luke 24: 5-6) The news of the risen Christ brought tremendous joy to the disciples, but terrified the Jewish leaders.
As much as the day of the crucifixion was painful emotionally, it was a day of salvation. However, people did not see Christ opening the doors of paradise, they only saw the suffering, insults and nails. As much as the disciples were disturbed and sad on Friday, they were very joyful on Sunday. The promise of the Lord to them was fulfilled when He said, “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16:22).
Through His resurrection, they rejoiced that the resurrection is possible and realistic. He was the evidence. That is why St. John describes Him, “whom we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands” (1Jn 1: 1). St. Peter also bears witness that “we have eaten and drank with Him after His resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 10: 41). Through the resurrection, the fear of the disciples was turned into courage and indifference to all the powers that were fighting them. All their enemies could do is threaten to kill them, but what can the threat of death do to one who believes in the resurrection and has seen it!