Because He Lives
By Stephen D. Edwards
Peter weeps as the rooster crows a second time, and the morning chill overtakes him with a fire reduced to embers. The high priest leaves the courtyard of his home after delivering his command to take Jesus to Pontius Pilate, saying that He claimed to be the Son of God.
This must be the end of my days as a fisher of men, Peter thinks, because the Master is now a convict, and I’ve denied Him, as He said I would.
Peter leaves the courtyard heading to the upper room, as he considers last night’s events. Jesus washed everyone’s feet, which is so odd, because we should have washed His. Yet, now I can see how I should be last in order to be great in God’s kingdom.
New leaves on the fig tree just outside the gate remind Peter that the Master had said, “If you have faith with no doubt, you will not only wither the fig tree, but tell that mountain to fall into the sea, and it will happen.” With renewed faith, Peter prays, God, show me the ways that I may serve others in acts of washing feet for Your sake. Help me in my decisions from this day forward, and help my faith to never falter again.
* * *
Walking along the street toward the Sheep Gate, as the skies begin to darken from the hidden sun, Jesus falls three times while carrying the cross, unable to carry it further. A centurion orders Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross ahead of Jesus. Simon remembers that Jesus had said that if someone demands that he go a mile, he should go two. Pleased to obey Jesus, he lifts the cross to his shoulder, holding it securely with his arm, and he walks, willing to go any distance.
Peter sees Jesus nearing the top of Golgotha, tattered with blood oozing from His many wounds, which reminds Peter of the Scripture he learned as a child: “By His wounds we are healed.”
As Jesus cries out from the pain of the spikes ramming through his wrists and feet, John remembers a line from the psalmist: “They have pierced My hands and feet.”
The sight of that violence turns John away. He comforts himself with the memory that tomorrow is the Sabbath of the Passover, which celebrates the covering of the lamb’s blood on the lintels and doorposts, which protected the Israelites as the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt.
This reminds John of Jesus’ teaching about the grape vine, its branches, and its vinedresser. I know He wanted me to bear fruit as His branch, but He also said to live in Him and that He would live in me. How can I, now that the Vine has been cut down? Turning back to the cross, he continues: Jesus, how will You be glorified in this? Yet even so, I will honor our time together by striving to bear fruit.
When he turns away again, he sees Jesus’ mother Mary standing close by, streams of tears flooding her cheeks and chin. He walks to her to embrace her, as he hopes to comfort her in her weeping, remembering Jesus’ example of service to others. She remains silent as her arms surround him.
With the scribes and Pharisees mocking Jesus on the cross and the soldiers casting lots for his clothes, Jesus says, “Forgive them, Father. They don’t know the things they do.”
* * *
Storm clouds fill the daylight sky with rain threatening to soak the streets; the air becomes heavy. In the upper room, the walls slightly crack after an earthquake. The disciples’ eyelids droop as though weighted with lead; they fall asleep as they did when Jesus prayed the night before.
Mary Magdalene enters the sleepy room announcing that she needs help burying Jesus. Peter wakes up trying to shake off his sorrow and says, “I’ll go with you.”
* * *
None of the disciples leave the upper room until after the Sabbath, not even to buy food or go to the Temple. At dawn on the Third Day, Mary Magdalene and the other women return to the tomb to apply the spices to the body of Jesus. They become distressed because they find that Jesus is not there, even though the tomb had been well-sealed two days before.
Mary returns to the upper room out of breath, saying, “Our Rabboni has been taken away. We don’t know where they have put Him.”
Peter and John look at each other, stunned. Peter puts his shoes and garment on. John follows Peter out the door, as Mary moves out of their way with a gasp. Their walk to the tomb turns into a run and a race that John wins, but he stands outside of the tomb in wonder, looking in from the outside.
Peter arrives and doesn’t stop until he is inside the tomb, where he finds the burial cloths cast aside on Jesus’ ledge, but his eyes widen when he sees the face cloth folded, and he allows himself a titter of surprise.
John finally follows Peter into the tomb to see the cloth and asks, “Did you fold the cloth?”
“No, John! Jesus did, and you know that means He isn’t done with us yet! He truly has made me a fisher of men!”
John looks at the sunlight entering the tomb, saying, “It is confirmed by death’s defeat: eternal life belongs to all who believe in Christ. Because He lives, we too will live.”
Stephen D. Edwards is a regular contributor to AllAboutChrist.net and the author of The Branch and the Vine, a memoir of long-term depression and hope. He also writes novels and short stories with Christian themes. Edwards’ most recent work has been published in Agape Review, Faith on Every Corner, Calla Press and OpenDoor Poetry.
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