Peace be with you, he said
as he walked into the room
where they’d been huddled together,
bewildered and sad
because they thought he was dead.
Oh, he had been dead alright. The soldiers had checked before allowing his body to be taken away for burial. Dead and gone… no! dead but coming back! Because this was no ordinary man dying on that cross, this was the Son of God, and his dying was just a step along the way – it was the thing he had to do before coming back to life. It was the thing he had to do – the job he came to this earth for – but it was not the end of the story.
I’m not good at drawing but today I tried to kind of sketch the crucifixion, and found myself drawing his arms stretched upwards and I looked at it and thought: victory! Then I opened the gospel of John and read the crucifixion account and went on to the scene at the empty tomb and then this – Jesus walking into the room where his disciples were hiding, full of despair, and bringing peace and hope, showing them his resurrected body, wounds and all! Not some ghostly unearthly being, but the same man they had known and seen killed on the cross, the same man who had suffered that torture, walking and talking and eating because death, for him, was just a temporary phase, just something he had to go through as part of God’s amazing plan for the salvation of mankind.
The cross is crucial, but it’s not the end. Thank you, Jesus, for going through that terrible thing for me. I can’t begin to imagine doing that! I think of you hanging on that cross, knowing that you could at any moment climb down and end the pain – not a helpless victim, but a man who could call down an army of angels to make it all stop, but you chose to stay the course because of your love for us, for me, for each and every human being. I think of you hanging on that cross and I know that this was God showing his love for mankind, and I’m filled with gratitude.
And then I think of you being raised from the dead by the power of God’s Spirit, and of you later ascending to heaven and being seated at the right hand of the Father and interceding for me, and I am filled with peace and joy because I know you are alive, victorious, and one day you’re going to come back and make everything right.