Christ is Risen From the Dead, Trampling Down Death by Death, and Upon Those in the Tombs Bestowing Life!

Thoughts on the leave-taking of Bright Pascha, from a sermon by St. Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) of Simferopol and Crimea


What is this amazing troparion for this greatest of feasts, so dear to us and so misunderstood by non-Christians, even making them laugh?

Can fire be put out by fire? Can darkness be illumined by darkness? Can evil be conquered by evil? Of course not.

Like cannot be destroyed by like, but only by its opposite. Fire is put out by water, darkness is dispersed by light, and evil is conquered by goodness.

Nevertheless, contradicting this pervasive law, Christ trampled down death by His own death.

What death? Spiritual death. that death which is alienation from Christ God, Who is Love, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Spiritual death is the rejection of the way of goodness, love, and truth, and the preference of another path—the path of evil, hatred, and lies.

This path is from the devil, the enemy of Christ; for the devil is the father of lies, hatred, and evil. Thus, the general law that says like cannot be overcome by like has not been broken, but only to the contrary; and it is true that Christ trampled down death by His own death.

Christ’s Cross has bound the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), and whoever loves Christ is given the strength for the battle with the devil, and a powerful defense against him.

No less amazing is the second part of the troparion: “And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

It is not only amazing, but also radiates in our hearts with the divine light of most precious hope. If Christ is risen, then we shall also be resurrected in our bodies. For He rose from the dead, as the first among the dead, having placed the foundation for the general resurrection.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:21–22).

Thus, Christ has annulled not only spiritual death but also bodily death with His Cross and Resurrection. But this is wholly the work of God’s omnipotence, and there is no need for us to try and understand this according to the laws of nature, for they too were created by the Creator of all, and He is free to act not in accordance with them, but according to the laws unknown to us of His divine mind and will.

Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, Who has delivered us from spiritual death and bodily destruction.


St Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky), Archbishop of Crimea
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)


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