Lent 2015, Fourth Sunday—Melito of Sardis

For this fourth Sunday of Lent, I cite here the concluding section of Melito’s Paschal Homily (i.e., Passover or Easter sermon).  Melito (d. about AD 180), was for a number of years bishop of Sardis.  The passage cited here is quite remarkable, both rhetorically and theologically.

But he arose from the dead and mounted up to the heights of heaven.  When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried, he rose from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice:  “Who is the one who contends with me?  Let him stand in opposition to me.  I have set the condemned man free.  I have given the dead man life. I have raised up the one who had been entombed.  Who is my opponent?  I,” he says, “am the Christ.  I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven.  I,” he says, “am the Christ.”

“Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins.  I am your forgiveness.  I am the Passover of your salvation.  I am your light.  I am your savior.  I am your resurrection.  I am your King.  I am leading you up to the heights of heaven.  I will show you the eternal Father.  I will raise you up by my right hand.”

This is the one who made the heaven and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and the prophets, who became human through the virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.

This is the Alpha and the Omega, this is the Beginning and the End—an indescribable Beginning, and an incomprehensible End.  This is the Christ.  This is the king.  This is Jesus. This is the General.  This is the Lord.  This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father, to whom be the glory and the power for ever.  Amen.

Jerry Shepherd
Lent
March 15, 2015

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