One of the phrases in the Nicene Creed (AD381) reads that the Lord Jesus Christ …
for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures
Gnostic beliefs were in a deity that wanted to liberate souls from the evil material world.
Christian faith on the other hand says that God is the creator of that world, and ‘for our sake and for our salvation’, out of love, he entered that creation in the flesh.
Only the God-Man Jesus Christ could give eternal life and salvation as a gift.
On this Good Friday, more starkly than any other day, we are reminded of God’s self-giving involvement in this broken, sinful, physical world.
The incarnation leads to the one “through whom all things were made” to the real experience of suffering, death and burial.
In Christology class today we were looking at what some of the Early Church Fathers said about Jesus and his work on the cross ‘for our salvation’. We could do worse, this day, than to hear and reflect on their words and give thanks to God for the ‘wondrous cross’.
Irenaeus: God the Word restored Man in himself, his ancient handiwork, that he might bring death to sin, strip death of its power, and give life to man. AGAINST HERESIES 3.18.7
Athanasius: Our guilt was the cause of the descent of the Word, and our transgression called forth his loving kindness, so that he came to us, and the Lord was displayed among human beings. For we were the occasion of his embodiment, and for our salvation he went so far in his love for humankind as to be born to be displayed in a human body. ON THE INCARNATION 4.
Gregory of Nazianzus: For who compelled him to be born at all, or to mount the cross? As I have said, he represents, in himself, our condition. It was we who were formerly forsaken and neglected, but we have now been brought near and saved by the sufferings of the impassible one. ORATION 30.5