Who Will Contend with Me?

[Posting on Facebook yesterday.]

In today's matins reading, Melito of Sardis seems to be dramatizing the Jesus described in the near-universalist peroration of Saint Paul in Romans 8:31-35: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He Who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also withHim graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God Who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One Who died—more than that, Who was raised—Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"

The desire and work of God is to justify each human. It is the work of Satan to be humanity's adversary, to bring charges against each of us. But if we are Christian, we follow the One Who justifies:

"The Lord, though He was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, He was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but He rose from the dead, and cried aloud: 'Who will contend with Me? Let him confront Me.' I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against Me? I, He said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ."

Jesus is ready to rumble.

He has won His plenary authority to justify through a total substitutionary solidarity--His real identification with each of us, all the way to the screaming depths of godforsakenness.

He allowed Himself to be swallowed by the world of alienation and suffering, but the Fish ended up swallowing the Leviathan. And now there is not one single human being of any time or place, not one people or culture, for whom the pearly gates of the Kingdom of God do not stand open:

"Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light. I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With My own right hand, I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father."

He is truly risen; hope stirs in the viscera of the world.