By Armando Elkhoury


What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean for all the children of Adam? In this article, I explore the theological notions of the resurrection as expressed in the Book of Offering (BO)

Book of Offering According to the Rite of the Antiochene-Syriac Maronite Church, 2012.

of the Maronite Church and its effect on all humanity.

1. The Resurrection of Jesus

The four Gospels mention no one who, in reality, witnessed Jesus rising from the dead, not even the soldiers who guarded his tomb.

See Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20.

Yet, all four Gospel authors unanimously place Mary Magdalene and other women at an empty tomb early Sunday morning. Mark reports the genuine reaction of these women: “Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mk 16:8).



Mark, nonetheless, amends his story. He reports, along with the other Gospel writers, that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women, who then announced to the apostles and disciples the resurrection of their Master. Initially, they did not believe the Good News that the women proclaimed

See Mk 16:9-1; Lk 24:9-12.

but later did so only when Jesus appeared to them.

See Mk 16:12-14; Lk 24:13-49; Jn 20:19-23.



Surprisingly, Matthew reports that the eleven disciples still doubted even as they saw and worshiped the resurrected Jesus.

See Mt 28:16-7.

Now Thomas’s reaction to the news of the resurrection of Jesus was no different from that of the others. His honest response exemplifies not only the doubt of his fellow apostles and disciples but also ours: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). Upon seeing Jesus and hearing his greeting, Thomas proclaimed him Lord and God. And Jesus answered him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:26-29).



The apparitions of Jesus eventually ceased, the last of which happened with Paul.

See Acts 9; 1 Cor 15:8.

And the newcomers into the Christian faith, like us, believed even though they had not seen the resurrected Jesus. That Jesus rose from the tomb is an article of faith that cannot be scrutinized by the mind or proven by philosophy or science. Does the Old Testament, however, contain indications of the resurrection?



2. Old Testament Types Depicting the Resurrection

The Book of Offering contains two Old Testament types that represent the resurrection of Jesus. The first one is the Divine Warrior in the book of Isaiah. The prophet depicts the Divine Warrior in crimsoned garments, in red apparel like one who treads the winepress. The Divine Warrior has alone trampled down his enemies in his wrath, and their blood spurted on his garments and stained his apparel.

See Is 63:1-6.

A gruesome image indeed!



The Book of Offering interprets this Divine Warrior to be Jesus Christ. As if asking the Old Testament Prophet for an explanation, the Church says,

“Alleluia! Come, Isaiah, and explain your words to us; tell us whom you saw all dressed in blood-stained clothes, like someone who treads the press while making wine” (BO 370).

Her response placed on Isaiah’s lips is loud and clear, “He is Christ, the Risen One, the Son of God” (BO 370)!

It is self-evident at first sight that blood would stain the garments of the battered Jesus: He had suffered flogging, Roman soldiers thrust thorns into his head, nailed his hands and feet, and pierced his side with a lance.

The Book of Offering, nevertheless, says otherwise. It is not the blood of Jesus that stained his clothes but of his enemies. Just as the Divine Warrior in Isaiah alone trampled down his foes in his wrath and their blood dyed his clothes, so too Jesus Christ squashes his adversaries by himself. And their blood spurts on and stains his garment.

Who are the enemies of Jesus Christ? Is it the king who ordered his demise? Are they the Roman soldiers who nailed him on the cross or the Jews who demanded his crucifixion?

See Mt 27:22-23; Mk 15:13.

Is it the Apostle who betrayed him or the one who denied him?

See Mt 26; Mk 14; Lk 22; Jn 13; 18.

The disciples who left him? None of them! Far be it, for the Word of God became man to save all human beings.



Who, then, is the enemy of Jesus Christ? It is death! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead shows that the Son of God has trampled and conquered death, and the blood that spattered his garments is the blood of death that died. Christ battles death to save his beloved ones, the children of Adam. The Book of Offering states,

Alleluia! Risen is the Lord of hosts, the King Almighty! When Isaiah saw his Lord, he cried out, asking: “O Son of God, who has dyed your garments red as blood?” Jesus then replied: “I have trampled death itself to save my loved ones, and the blood of conquered death has stained my garments.” Alleluia! Our Lord has been raised (BO, 316).

Jonah is the second Old Testament type that depicts the resurrection. Commissioned to preach repentance to the Ninevites in the East, Jonah fled West to Tarshish on a ship. The sailors, who were afraid of the ferocious winds that the Lord hurled upon the sea, threw Jonah overboard. The Lord, however, sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, who remained in its belly three days and three nights.

See Jon 1-2.

Jesus uses the image of Jonah to prefigure his sojourn in the abode of the dead and, implicitly, his resurrection.

See Mt 12:40; Lk 11:30.

The behemoth fish vomiting Jonah upon dry land

See Jon 2:11.

symbolizes death vomiting Jesus Christ from its realm: it is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Accordingly, the Maronite Church, echoing the Scriptures, teaches that Jonah brought repentance to the Ninevites and Jesus redemption to the whole world:



Jonah spent three days in the whale’s belly and told a city: “Come to repentance.” Jesus spent three days inside a dark tomb and told the whole world: “I bring redemption” (BO, 350).

The images of the Divine Warrior and Jonah, as explained above, depict the resurrection of Jesus Christ as his absolute victory over death. Consequently, Christ saves and redeems his beloved through his death and resurrection. What is the significance of the resurrection for human beings? Before I attempt to answer that question, it is helpful to look at the terms in the Qurbono book that describe how the fall affected Adam after his creation.

3. Adam’s Fall

The Creator of all crowns his creation with Adam and Eve (hereafter Adam), and everything he created is to honor them. In a prayer addressed to the only begotten Son, the Book of Offering states, only begotten Son, “you fashioned all creation to honor Adam, the image of your majesty” (BO, 495). Furthermore, God embraces Adam with his love and blessings.

See BO, 369.

Adam neither deserves nor has earned this honor, but God bestows it upon him, for he created Adam in the image of the only begotten Son.

See Gn 1:26; 5:1,3; 9:6.

And so, by honoring Adam, God the Father glorifies God the Son, the Father’s image and wisdom.

See BO, 620.



The Maker of all sees that the creation is good and places Adam in paradise.

See Gn 2:4-25; BO 533.

The Evil One, however, tricks Adam into transgressing the commandment of God. Adam falls into the Evil One’s trap to his detriment and loses the privilege of being in paradise.

See Gn 3.

The Book of Offering describes this transgression with the terms stumbling and falling.

See BO, 651.

The consequences of this fall are dire: Adam is now a slave to Satan and Death,

See BO, 361.

cursed and banished,

See BO, 610.

and wounded.

See BO 543.

And the image of the Son of God in Adam becomes distorted and corrupted (see BO 818).



Since God the Father is abundant in mercy and because of his love for Adam, he sends his Son into the world

See BO, 777.

to make Adam whole and happy. That means that the Father wills to reverse the horrible state that Adam finds himself in and restore him not to his original state but a better one.



4. The Significance of the Resurrection for the Children of Adam

Jesus Christ, the Divine Warrior, alone goes to war with death and categorically conquers it. By dying, the Son of God faces death and brings the final cataclysmic battle to the tomb, death’s domain. He deliberately takes the war to death’s territory where the Evil One reigns supreme to trample both death and the Evil One until they are no longer and to annihilate them once and for all. The Book of Offering declares,

The Ruler of all was enclosed within a tomb. He arose destroying death and its dark realm. Christ the King forever reigns (BO, 321)!

It also states,

“On a Sunday most holy, Christ our Savior truly rose. Death and Satan he conquered…” (BO, 333).

The Son of God does not only vanquish death and conquers its domain but establishes his unshakable throne in what used to be the realm of death as well. Therefore, the tomb becomes the kingdom of life.

The Divine Warrior, now the only Ruler of the tomb, seeks Adam in the darkest depth of the abyss of death. When he finally finds him, death had mortally wounded Adam, horribly corrupted him, and snuffed life out of him. Alas, poor Adam, he is no longer!

Let us not be dismayed, for the Divine Ruler is also the Heavenly Physician,

See BO, 202.

who, in his abundant love, came to Adam

See BO, 230.

and for the sake of Adam’s race.

See BO, 207.

As a Physician and Lover of all people, Jesus Christ bandages the wounds of Adam.

See BO, 212.

And as the Source of healing (see BO, 230), the Son of God heals Adam.

See BO, 207, 230.

And since Christ is “the Source of life, and eternal life had flowed from you to the departed” (BO 231), he gives Adam life. The Qurbono book states,

Alleluia! Christ, the Son of Mary, died; he tasted death on the cross. He brought Adam back to life when he went down to the dead. Seeing him, Death was afraid and lost its crown in the fight. In glory Christ rose from death, and he lifted us on high (BO, 366).

Consequently, the Son of God grants Adam eternal life, thus freeing him from the grasp of death and slavery. In fact,

[a]ll creation is set free by the rising of God’s Son. Death and Satan have been crushed; Adam is their slave no more (BO, 361; see BO, 299).

Indeed, the Physician of soul and body

See BO, 200.

has bandaged our wounds, healed us, given us life, and freed us. In the words of the Book of Offering:



On a Sunday most holy, Christ our Savior truly rose. Death and Satan he conquered, giving Adam’s children life. Let your servants, Lord, praise you, for from death you truly rose. Let your saints glorify you, for you gave your children life (BO, 333).

What is the significance of the resurrection for us, the children of Adam? For one, the Author of Life, through his resurrection, grants us a new life,

See BO, 553.

thus saving Adam’s race!

See BO, 341.

Moreover, the Son of God renews his image that Adam had distorted. Indeed, “God the Father sent his Son to make Adam’s image new”

See BO, 321.

and to restore his glorious image,

See BO, 122.

for Adam’s image grew old.

See BO, 133.

God forms Adam anew so that he become a new creation. The Qurbono book proclaims,



Jesus Christ, our Lord God and Savior, you formed us out of nothing, and, after the fall of Adam, you formed us anew and raised us up to be your brothers and sisters” (BO, 546).

Moreover, Jesus Christ erases Adam’s curse and brings Adam back to Eden.

See BO, 610.

Therefore,



Christ has granted Adam life and restored him to the place that he lost when he had sinned” (BO, 356).

Death is still a human reality. It does not, however, have the final word. With the eyes of faith, we recognize that Jesus Christ, sitting on his throne in the tomb, awaits us to bestow on us eternal life so that we be with him, his Father, and his Holy Spirit forever.

“Even in their tombs the dead rejoice as creation sings” (BO 594).

Let us, then, be glad along with them, for Jesus Christ our Lord and God is truly risen from the dead, raised us with him, and granted us eternal life!


Endnotes

  1. Book of Offering According to the Rite of the Antiochene-Syriac Maronite Church, 2012.
  2. See Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20.
  3. See Mk 16:9-1; Lk 24:9-12.
  4. See Mk 16:12-14; Lk 24:13-49; Jn 20:19-23.
  5. See Mt 28:16-7.
  6. See Acts 9; 1 Cor 15:8.
  7. See Is 63:1-6.
  8. See Mt 27:22-23; Mk 15:13.
  9. See Mt 26; Mk 14; Lk 22; Jn 13; 18.
  10. See Jon 1-2.
  11. See Mt 12:40; Lk 11:30.
  12. See Jon 2:11.
  13. See BO, 369.
  14. See Gn 1:26; 5:1,3; 9:6.
  15. See BO, 620.
  16. See Gn 2:4-25; BO 533.
  17. See Gn 3.
  18. See BO, 651.
  19. See BO, 361.
  20. See BO, 610.
  21. See BO 543.
  22. See BO, 777.
  23. See BO, 202.
  24. See BO, 230.
  25. See BO, 207.
  26. See BO, 212.
  27. See BO, 207, 230.
  28. See BO, 200.
  29. See BO, 553.
  30. See BO, 341.
  31. See BO, 321.
  32. See BO, 122.
  33. See BO, 133.
  34. See BO, 610.

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