Ola: Good afternoon Uche.
Uche: Good afternoon Ola. How are you today?
Ola: I am fine. And you?
Ola: I would love to discuss the death of Christ with you. I have questions seeking answers.
Uche: Of course we can discuss. Let us hope I can help.
Ola: Well, I seek to understand why Christ suffered the way he did considering that he was absolutely innocent.
Uche: That question takes us back to Adam. We need to appreciate the gravity of sin. The gravity of an offence increases according to the dignity of the one offended.
Ola: How do you mean?
Uche: You offend your younger brother if you slap him for no just cause. It is more offensive if you slap your elder sister for no reason. But it is most offensive if you slap your own father. You can see that in the three cases, the offensive act – slap – was the same but the degree of offense increased according to the dignity of the person.
Ola: I see that. So when we offend God, it becomes the greatest offense.
Uche: Remember that God has infinite dignity. Therefore the malice of sin against God is infinite. This infinite malice requires infinite satisfaction and man can in no way achieve that.
Ola: What if man gives his life? After all the highest a man can do is give his life.
Uche: Man is a finite being and so no action of his carries an infinite value, not even if he gives his life for his own offense against God.
So when Adam committed the sin of disobedience against God, God’s justice condemned him.
Ola: Now that we are talking about Adam, could God not have punished Adam alone? How is it that we are today suffering for the sin of one man?
Uche: All mankind that has existed and will exist were potentially present in Adam and he was the representative of mankind. We cannot blame God for the consequences of Adam’s action.
Take for instance that a man is poor and his family is suffering financially as a result. A wealthy man comes and asks the poor man to work for him for one year after which he would pay him a sum that would make him rich. If the poor man refuses the offer of the wealthy man, the family cannot blame the wealthy man but the poor man himself who refused the offer. The family suffers for the wrong decision of the head not the wealthy man.
Ola: Adam committed the sin, he was guilty. Man is born with original sin and commits actual sins, so man is also guilty. But Jesus was born without original sin. He committed no sin yet his suffering was great. How could this have been?
Uche: I had initially said that God’s justice condemned Adam. Needless now to say that mankind was condemned. That is justice. But his infinite mercy created a plan for man’s redemption. Since the malice of sin against God was infinite, it required infinite satisfaction. This satisfaction would be a sacrifice with an infinite value. God is the only being whose action has an infinite value. So God the Father designed that the Son who is also God would offer himself as a sacrifice.
Now man committed the sin, hence, man would also have to pay the price. The Word was made Flesh and he is Jesus, 100% God and 100% man. His divine and human natures are mysteriously present in his person in a union we call hypostatic union.
Ola: Like the priest says sometimes, “In love, you created man; in justice, you condemned him; in mercy, you redeemed him.” All men then are saved even if they go on committing sin. After all, his sacrifice has infinitely satisfied the malice of sin.
Uche: No. The God who made you without you cannot redeem you without you. It is still necessary for every individual to apply the merits of Christ’s sacrifice to himself. Every individual should therefore cooperate with God for his own salvation.