Monday, March 17, 2014
The Third Article of the Creed.
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the Heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.
The third article of the Symbol of Faith is the statement of how the Son of God descended from Heaven to earth, took upon Himself a body, human in every way but without sin, and was incarnate. He took on not only the body, but the soul of a man and became perfectly human without ceasing to be God at the same time. He became God incarnate.
The Son of God descended from Heaven and became a man (God incarnate) in order to save people from the power of the Devil, sin and eternal death. Sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). That is, sin is an offense against the Law of God. Sin arises in people by the action of the Devil, who tempted Eve in Paradise, and through her, Adam, and persuaded them to break the commandment of God.
The fall into sin of the first people, Adam and Eve, broke down the nature of mankind. Sin in people clouded their intelligence and will. To the body it brought sickness and death. People began to suffer and to die. By their own power, people were not able to conquer sin in themselves and in their descendants, or to correct their intelligence, soul and heart, and to destroy death. This can be accomplished only by God, the Creator of all.
The merciful Lord gave a promise to people that the Saviour of the world would come to earth to deliver people from the power of the Devil and eternal death.
When the time of salvation came, the Son of God came to dwell within the pure Virgin Mary and, through the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Her, received from Her the nature of man and was born in a supernatural way "of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary."
The Most-holy Virgin Mary was a descendant of the family of King David. She was the daughter of the righteous Joachim and Anna. The
Most-holy Mary is called a Virgin because She, out of love for God, promised to never marry. She is called Ever-virgin because She always remained a virgin, before the birth of the Saviour, at the time of the birth, and after the birth.
The holy Orthodox Church calls the Virgin Mary the God-Bearer (Theotokos), and holds Her more sacred than all created beings, not only people, but angels. "More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim" we declare of Her because She is the Mother of God Himself. Thus, according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the righteous Elizabeth addressed Her, and whence is this to me, that the Mother of My Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43).
Through His prophets, the Lord God showed many signs of the coming of the Saviour into the world. For example:
The Prophet Isaiah predicted that the Saviour would be born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and with remarkable clarity foretold His suffering (Isaiah 5:7-8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 53).
The Prophet Micah prophesied that the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:4-6).
The Prophet Malachi predicted that the Saviour would come to the newly built temple in Jerusalem, and that before Him would be sent the Forerunner, like the prophet Elias (Mal. 3:1-15).
The Prophet Zechariah predicted the triumphal entry of the Saviour into Jerusalem on a "colt, the foal of an ass" (Zech. 9:9).
King David in the twenty-first psalm described the Saviour’s suffering on the cross with such accuracy that it seems as if he had seen the crucifixion himself.
The Prophet Daniel, 490 years before Christ, prophesied the date of the appearance of the Saviour, predicted His crucifixion, and after it, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the cessation of Old Testament sacrifices (Daniel 9).
When the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth, many righteous people recognized Him as the Saviour of the world. The wise men of the East recognized Him by the star which shone in the East before the birth of Christ. The shepherds in Bethlehem recognized Him from the angels’ proclamation. Simeon and Anna recognized Him by a revelation from the Holy Spirit when he was brought to the Temple. John the Baptist recognized Him in the Jordan River, at the time of baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father testified, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17). Many people recognized Him by the superiority of His teaching and especially by the miracles that He did.
For our salvation Jesus Christ accomplished His teachings, His life, His death, and His resurrection. His teachings are for our salvation when we accept them with all our heart, and behave in accordance with them, when we emulate in our own lives the life of the Saviour. As the false word of the Devil, accepted by the first people, became in people the seeds of sin and death, so the true word of Christ, sincerely accepted by Christians, becomes in them the seeds of holy and immortal life.