What Great Love!
John 18-19 – The Passion of Our Lord
What great love we have just heard! The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is a sermon in itself. But let’s drive the point home even more. What does it mean? Listen to St. Paul:
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).
Ah, what great love! It’s the life-giving message that the Church has been privileged to proclaim for 2000 years. And why? So that we sinners can rejoice in the great love of our Savior for all eternity. That great eternal love is focused in and flows from the Son of God made flesh, nailed to a tree, and risen again. Here’s how Melito of Sardis, a second century pastor, proclaimed it (On Pascha, 100-105, pp. 65-67):
The Lord clothed himself with humanity,
and with suffering on behalf of the suffering one,
and bound on behalf of the one constrained,
and judged on behalf of the one convicted,
and buried on behalf of the one entombed,
rose from the dead and cried out aloud:
“Who takes issue with me? Let him stand before me.
I set free the condemned.
I give life to the dead.
I raise up the entombed.
Who will contradict me?”
“It is I,” says the Christ,
“I am he who destroys death,
and triumphs over the enemy,
and crushes Hades,
and binds the strong man,
and bears humanity off to the heavenly heights.”
“It is I,” says the Christ.
“So come all families of people,
adulterated with sin,
and receive forgiveness of sins.
For I am your freedom.
I am the Passover of salvation,
I am the lamb slaughtered for you,
I am your ransom,
I am your life,
I am your light,
I am your salvation,
I am your resurrection,
I am your King.
I shall raise you up by my right hand,
I will lead you to the heights of heaven,
there shall I show you the everlasting [Father].”
He [Christ] it is who made the heaven and the earth,
and formed humanity in the beginning,
who was proclaimed through the law and the prophets,
who took flesh from a virgin,
who was hung on a tree,
who was buried in earth,
who was raised from the dead,
and ascended to the heights of heaven,
who sits at the right hand of the [Father],
who has the power to save all things,
through whom the [Father] acted from the beginning and for ever.
This is the alpha and omega,
this is the beginning and the end,
the ineffable beginning and the incomprehensible end.
This is the Christ,
this is the King,
this is Jesus,
this is the commander,
this is the Lord,
this is he who rose from the dead,
this is he who sits at the right hand of the [Father],
he bears the [Father] and is borne by him.
To him be the glory and the might fore ever.