At no moment in history did God stop offering his salvation to the sons and daughters of Adam, establishing his covenant with all of humanity in Noah and, later, with Abraham and his descendants.
Therefore, divine salvation takes on the creaturely order shared by all humanity and accompanies their concrete journey in history. By choosing a people to whom He offered the means to fight against sin and to draw close to Him, God prepared the coming of “a powerful Savior, in the house of David, his servant”.
In the fullness of time, the Father sent to the world his Son, who proclaimed the Kingdom of God, curing every disease and illness. The healings performed by Jesus, in which He makes present the providence of God, were a sign that pointed back to his own person, to Him who is fully revealed as Lord of life and of death in his paschal event.
According to the Gospel, salvation for all people begins with welcoming Jesus: “Today salvation has come to this house”. The good news of salvation has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
The Christian faith has illustrated, throughout its centuries-long history, by means of multiple figures, this salvific work of the Son incarnate.
It has done so without ever separating the healing dimension of salvation, by which Christ redeems us from sin, from the elevating dimension, by which He makes us sons and daughters of God, participants in his divine nature.
Considering the salvific perspective in a descending manner, that is, beginning with God who comes to redeem humanity, Jesus is the illuminator and revealer, the redeemer and liberator, the One who divinizes and justifies man.
According to an ascending vision, that is, beginning with the human person turning towards God, Christ is the High Priest of the New Covenant, offering perfect worship to the Father, in the name of all humanity: He sacrifices Himself, expiates sins, and remains forever alive to intercede on our behalf.
In this manner, an incredible synergy between divine and human action appears in the life of Jesus, a synergy that shows how baseless the individualist perspective is.
The descending perspective bears witness to the absolute primacy of the gratuitous action of God; the humility to receive the gifts of God, prior to all our works, is essential in order for us to be able to respond to his salvific love.
At the same time, the ascending perspective recalls that, by means of the fully human action of his Son, the Father wanted to renew our actions, so that, conformed to Christ, we are able to fulfil “the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them”.
Moreover it is clear that the salvation that Jesus brought in his own person does not occur only in an interior manner. In fact, the Son was made flesh, in order to communicate to every person the salvific communion with God.
It was precisely by assuming flesh, and being born of a woman, that “the Son of God was made the son of man” and our brother. Thus, inasmuch as He became part of the human family, “He has united Himself in some fashion with every man and woman” and has established a new order of relationships with God, his Father, and with all humanity in which we can be incorporated in order to participate in the Son of God’s own life. As a result, rather than limiting the salvific action, assuming flesh allows Christ in a concrete way to mediate the salvation of God for all of the sons and daughters of Adam.
In conclusion, to respond both to the individualist reductionism of Pelagian tendency, and to the neo-Gnostic promise of a merely interior salvation, we must remember the way in which Jesus is Savior. He did not limit Himself to showing us the way to encounter God, a path we can walk on our own by being obedient to his words and by imitating his example.
Rather, Christ opens for us the door of freedom, and becomes, Himself, the way: “I am the way”. Furthermore, this path is not merely an interior journey at the margins of our relationships with others and with the created world. Rather, Jesus gave us a “new and living way that He inaugurated for us through his flesh”.
Therefore, Christ is Savior inasmuch as He assumed the entirety of our humanity and lived a fully human life in communion with his Father and with others. Salvation, then, consists in our incorporation into his life, receiving his Spirit. He became, “in a particular way, the origin of all grace according to his humanity.” He is at the same time Savior and Salvation.