Only the death of the Savior could bring an end to death, and it is the same for each of the other sufferings of the flesh too. Unless he had felt dread, human nature could not have become free from dread. Unless he had experienced grief, there could have never been any deliverance from grief. Unless he had been troubled and alarmed, there would have been no escape from these feelings. Every one of the emotions to which human nature is liable can be found in Christ. The emotions of his flesh were aroused, not that they might gain the upper hand, as indeed they do in us, but in order that when aroused they might be thoroughly subdued by the power of the Word dwelling in the flesh, human nature as a whole thus undergoing a change for the better. (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John 8)

 

In this passage from his commentary on John’s gospel, St. Cyril (another of the early church fathers) summarizes what has been a common theme of these daily meditations: that God saves us by undergoing, in Jesus, the worst that human life can offer, that by so bringing the worst into contact with the divine nature, human life may be transformed. As St. Cyril puts it, that the worst of our world ‘might be thoroughly subdued by the power of the Word dwelling in the flesh’ of Christ, ‘human nature as a whole thus undergoing a change for the better.’ As subsequent theologians were wont to say, O admirabile commercium!—What a marvelous exchange!—that in his passion Christ takes on our sin and death in order that we might enjoy his righteousness and life. It is my prayer for each of us that we might enter more deeply this Holy Week into the mystery of Jesus’ suffering and death. By dying with him—in Baptism, in our lives, and in our deaths—we too can share in the power of his resurrection (Romans 6:5).

Let us pray: Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Turn: As we’ve been exploring this Lent, Jesus underwent all manner of human experiences—temptation, betrayal, pain, loss, death—in order to redeem them from the inside out. As you prepare this week liturgically to walk the way of the Cross, ask yourself what part of Jesus’ passion you most personally resonate with. Ask God to use your prayer and worship this week to bring your experience into contact with Jesus’, that you might be changed for the better.

A Journey Through the Passion is a daily meditation for Lent curated by Fr. Justin Crisp, our Associate Rector and Theologian-in-Residence. Meditations follow the schedule of readings for our 2019 Maranatha House Churches, feature prayers for the season of Lent according to the Book of Common Prayer and Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and are patterned on the seven practices of The Way of Love, a rule of life for the Episcopal Church.