How is it possible that Christ dies, though He is God? Can God die? Was the death of Christ a weakness? Who was managing the world during His death?
God cannot die. The divinity cannot undergo death.
Thus, we say in the Trisagion, “Holy is God, Holy is the Powerful , Holy is the Living and Immortal.”
However, the Lord Christ is not only Godhead, but He is united with a human body.
He took on Himself a body of our human nature and that is why He was called “Son of Man”. His human body is united with a human spirit which is mortal like ours, but it is united with the divine nature without separation.
When He died on the cross, He died in the body; in the human body.
Thus, we say in the ninth hour prayer, “You who tasted death in the body at the ninth hour….”
The death of Christ was not out of weakness, nor was it against His divinity.
It was not against His divinity because the Godhead is living – by His nature – and is immortal.
Moreover, He willed that His human body dies as a pleasing sacrifice and also for the redemption of the world.
His death was not also out of weakness for the following reasons:
1. His death was not weakness, but rather love and sacrifice as the Holy Bible says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).
2. The Lord Christ offered Himself to death by His own will. He laid down His life to redeem humanity from the judgement of death. This is evident in His great words, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17, 18).
The weakness of an ordinary person in his death lies in two matters:
a) An ordinary person dies against his will and he has no power to escape from death, unlike the Lord Christ who laid down His life without anyone taking it from Him.
b) When an ordinary person dies, he cannot rise unless God raises him. But the Lord Christ has risen by Himself and said about His life, “I have power to take it up again.” These words can only be said by one who is powerful not weak.
3. Among the signs of the Lord’s power in His death are the following:
a) In His crucifixion and death, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised ” So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”(Matt 27:51-54).
b) In His death He worked also; for He opened Paradise and let in Adam, the other righteous people and the thief.
c) Through His death He abolished death (2 Tim 1:10), (Heb 2:14). Thus death became a mere golden bridge bringing people to a better life. Therefore St. Paul the Apostle said, “O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).
Who then administered the universe during His death?
It was His Godhead who administered the universe; His Godhead that never dies and was never affected by the death of the body. The Godhead is present everywhere and is also in heaven (John 3:13).