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What is the full meaning of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross, and His resurrection? Was it an atonement for our sins? A payment for our sins? Or was it something else far deeper? What was it that Jesus actually did, and why does it matter? For Orthodox Christians, the focus of Great and Holy Pascha (their word for Easter), the Feast of Feasts, is about far more than the empty tomb or some sense of payment, but about Life itself. “Christ is Risen!” we will greet each other, “Truly He is Risen” we reply. Christos Anesti! Alethos Anesti! And again and again we sing the Troparion:
Christ is Risen from the grave,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
“Trampling down death by death.” We hear that phrase again and again, and it is an old one. The emperor Justinian used it in his hymn, which we sing every Sunday.