A familiar voice, first heard when I was yet a boy, earnestly entreated me to return to the cross. This faithful servant gently reminded me of the violence which precipitated the most beautiful act of supreme love. She recalled the story of a man of sorrows who had come to His own, only to be ridiculed and rejected, slandered and slain.

The desired conqueror had not arrived to overthrow Roman oppression; He had arrived to perform a more important task: to free slaves bound to the dictates of an invisible enemy- an enemy whose effects could be seen from Jerusalem to Jericho. The cheering “Hosannas” had quickly turned to jeering hate. The palm branches gently waving in the air above His head were replaced with whips which came down repeatedly, lashing and laying open skin, muscle, and sinew. Mocking the majesty of a King’s beloved Prince, humanity thrust down a crown of thorns to mutilate His brow.

I must return to that hill to remember how the infinite God became finite, revisit where the greatest act of love blossomed amid the most violent hatred, and marvel at how a God so magnanimous could restrain His eternal power and wrath, turning away from an act so savage as it was perpetrated with such utter impunity on the One He loved.

I must ponder how our holy Lord, who could not countenance an iota of sin, willingly embraced the mantle of our damnation, allowing the most twisted creations of perverted souls to pervade His presence. I must strain to listen as His weakened body hung on that cross, and hung on to life for a few more minutes, until…until the words of release were whispered out of that parched mouth and He declared that the impossible had been made possible.

I imagine the fear of the disciples as they scattered, torn by their duty to be faithful and ashamed of their lack of faith in adhering to that charge. Betrayed by one of their number, despairing of the separation they felt from their Lord after so much fellowship, not comprehending the victory which He would achieve after these days of total defeat, I can only wonder what thoughts must have been racing through the minds of those eleven men.

What inexplicable joy, what comforting reassurance must have radiated from their souls after glimpsing the beloved face of their Lord- newly risen from the grave! The One who had returned Lazarus to life silenced those who wondered if He Himself could not only cheat, but defeat death. In doing so, He brought the spiritually dead to life.

Thank you, Joni, for living out your faith, and for dutifully and humbly carrying on the work our Master has given you. Thank you for your timely message reminding all who heard you of the need to spread the good news and share the incredible love we have all experienced. Truly, you demonstrate the peace that passes all understanding. May He continue to strengthen you until the day He commends you in person.


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