On the Paschal Lamb

St. Melito of Sardis died ca. 180

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.

And thus He was lifted up upon the tree, and an inscription was affixed identifying the One who had been murdered. Who was He? It is painful to tell, but it is more dreadful not to tell. Therefore, hear and tremble because of Him for whom the earth trembled.

The One who hung the earth in space, is Himself hanged; the One who fixed the heavens in place, is Himself impaled; the One who firmly fixed all things, is Himself firmly fixed to the tree. The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel.

O frightful murder! O unheard of injustice! The Lord is disfigured and He is not deemed worthy of a cloak for His naked body, so that He might not be seen exposed. For this reason the stars turned and fled, and the day grew quite dark, in order to hide the naked person hanging on the tree, darkening not the body of the Lord, but the eyes of men.

Yes, even though the people did not tremble, the earth trembled instead; although the people were not afraid, the heavens grew frightened; although the people did not tear their garments, the angels tore theirs; although the people did not lament, the Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice. (Peri Tou Pascha, written ca. 167)

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