Melito of Sardis on the Death of Christ

The following is just a small excerpt from the writings of Melito of Sardis (died c. AD 180).

The earth shook, and its foundations trembled; the sun fled away, and the elements turned back, and the day was changed into night: for they could not endure the sight of their Lord hanging on a tree. The whole creation was amazed, marveling and saying, ‘What new mystery, then, is this? The Judge is judged, and holds his peace; the Invisible One is seen, and is not ashamed; the Incomprehensible is laid hold upon, and is not indignant; the Illimitable is circumscribed, and doth not resist; the Impossible suffereth, and doth not avenge; the Immortal dieth, and answereth not a word; the Celestial is laid in the grave, and endureth! What new mystery is this?’ The whole creation, I say, was astonished; but, when our Lord arose from the place of the dead, and trampled death under foot, and bound the strong one, and set man free, then did the whole creation see clearly that for man’s sake the Judge was condemned, and the Invisible was seen, and the Illimitable was circumscribed, and the Impassible suffered, and the Immortal died, and the Celestial was laid in the gave. For our Lord, when He was born man, was condemned in order that He might Show mercy, was bound in order that He might loose, was seized in order that He might release, suffered in order that He might feel compassion, died in order that He might give life, was laid in the grave that He might raise from the dead…

On these accounts He came to us; on these accounts, though He was incorporeal, He formed for Himself a body after our fashion, appearing as a sheep, yet still remaining the Shepherd; being esteemed a servant, yet not renouncing the Sonship; being carried in the womb of Mary, yet arrayed in the nature of His Father; treading upon the earth, yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant, yet not discarding the eternity of His nature; being invested with a body, yet not circumscribing the unmixed simplicity of His Godhead; being esteemed poor, yet not divested of His riches; needing sustenance inasmuch as He was man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world inasmuch as He is God; putting on the likeness of a servant, yet not impairing the likeness of His Father. He sustained every character belonging to Him in an immutable nature: He was standing before Pilate, and at the same time was sitting with His Father; He was nailed upon the tree, and yet was the Lord of all things.

He who hung the earth was Himself hanged up; He who fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He who laid the foundations of the universe was laid up on a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy in a naked body – God put to death!

meliton

 

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