Monday, March 25, 2013

Melito of Sardis on Christ as the Passover Lamb

One of the resources that I have used in preparing my sermons for Holy Week is a short treatise by the 2nd century bishop Melito of Sardis. Melito was an influential bishop from Anatolia. According to testimonies from men like Jerome and Origen he was a prolific and influential writer; unfortunately, only fragments of his works exist. His treatise on the Passover was suppressed for some time because Melito held the unpopular view that Easter was to be celebrated on the Jewish Passover. This is a great treatise very much worth reading. In this work, Melito expounds upon the nature of typology and demonstrates that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, especially in relation to the Passover. The full treatise can be found here. The following is a section from that work,

"When this one came from heaven to earth for the sake of the one who suffers, and had clothed himself with that very one through the womb of a virgin, and having come forth as man, he accepted the sufferings of the sufferer through his body which was capable of suffering. And he destroyed those human sufferings by his spirit which was incapable of dying. He killed death which had put man to death.

For this one, who was led away as a lamb, and who was sacrificed as a sheep, by himself delivered us from servitude to the world as from the land of Egypt, and released us from bondage to the devil as from the hand of Pharaoh, and sealed our souls by his own spirit and the members of our bodies by his own blood.

This is the one who covered death with shame and who plunged the devil into mourning as Moses did Pharaoh. This is the one who smote lawlessness and deprived injustice of its offspring, as Moses deprived Egypt. This is the one who delivered us from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, from death into life, from tyranny into an eternal kingdom, and who made us a new priesthood, and a special people forever.

This one is the passover of our salvation. This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people: This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac, and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph, and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb, and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.

This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.

This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent. This is the one who was born of Mary, that beautiful ewe-lamb. This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice, and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night; the one who was not broken while on the tree, who did not see dissolution while in the earth, who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below."


deniseja9 said...

Thanks for this gem! I think two paragraphs were accidentally repeated:
"This is the one who covered death with shame..." repeated in the fourth to last paragraph and "This is the lamb that was slain" repeated in the last paragrapth.

thatonelutheran said...

Thank you for these posts! Thank you for sharing these excerpts that you find; they are very edifying.

thatonelutheran said...

Great post! Thank you for posting these excerpts that you find; they are very edifying.

Jordan Cooper said...

Thanks Denise. I fixed it; I must have pasted the quote twice.

SamWise said...

Thanks Jordon! I love the non-syncretist from the ancient chrch!