“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:5b-6a)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome got together with other women and the disciples while thinking about Jesus. They were very sad because Jesus, whom they believed as their Messiah, was crucified on cross. They could not believe what had actually happened. They truly believed in Jesus, and He would liberate the Jews from the Roman occupation, and established a new Jewish kingdom on earth. Jesus did many miracles, healed the sick, and raised the dead. And many people followed Him. His message was always encouraging, caring and comforting. Thus, they tasted Heaven on earth while hearing Jesus and His merciful message with full of love. And Jesus loved His disciples till the end – dying on cross being crucified and experiencing the extreme agony in excruciating pains from His hands and feet nailed on the cross (The Roman solider exactly knew how to give the maximum pains when nailing a person on cross by driving a nail on the very center of the never systems on the hand). Jesus was also steadily suffocating as He could no longer support His own body weight. Jesus was slowly dying on the cross in extreme pains. Even so, Jesus never stopped loving His disciples, who fled and betrayed. In fact, the first word in His mouth on the cross was
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34)
Jesus forgave those who betrayed, shouted for Him to be crucified, sentenced to death, mocked, spit on, whipped, tortured, nailed, and hang Him on cross. While Jesus was on the cross, all but John was at the scene of the cross, along with several women including the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Jesus was crucified with two other criminals and His cross was in the middle of the two crosses. One of the criminals mocked Jesus although he was also on cross and condemned to his own death. On the other hand, the other criminal turned to Jesus, and asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom,” which was an amazing faith in Jesus. Jesus was also on the cross, bleeding and dying. Who would confess such a faith before the Jesus crucified and dying on the cross? For example, Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, could not believe the resurrected Jesus. Only after he touched the risen Lord in glory, he could believe Jesus. The criminal did not see the risen Lord in glory, but he saw the miserably crucified Jesus dying on the cross. However, he could see through the true Jesus on the cross, and found the truth about the Jesus: the Son of God and Savior. Before dying, the criminal put all of his faith on Jesus, and he cried out for Jesus’ mercy. At the last moment the criminal obtained mercy. Upon this faithful confession, Jesus blessed the criminal:
”Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)
The criminal received the Paradise through Jesus’ mercy. On earth, he was a criminal condemned and executed on the cross. This is the mercy and the love of Jesus. Whoever comes to Jesus, humbly asks His forgiveness and mercy, will receive His mercy. Before Jesus, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven, if we humbly present our sins with our contrite heart to Jesus.
Jesus was also merciful to His mother. On the cross, He comforted His mother, Mary while He was in unbearable pain and agony. He loved His mother till the end. He pointed to John, the only disciple at the scene of His cross, and told to Mary,
"Woman, this is your son." Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother. (John 19:26-27)
Jesus was the perfect man and God. As a perfect and sinless human, He was truly in His agony. In fact, His physical pain was only a part of His pain. The true pain came from the crushing condemnation caused by the sins of the entire humanity. He was being separated from His Father to become the one and only one perfect sacrificial lamb in order to carry all of the sins of the entire humanity including me and you. There is no way for us to fathom the enormous weight of the entire sins crushing on Jesus at that time. That pain, that agony, and that terrible separation from the Father are certainly too heavy to carry for any human beings ever born, living now, and to be born in future. We are feeble before our sins. We cannot bear the weight of one single self’s sins. Additionally, Jesus took the unfathomably enormous crushing weight of the entire sins with His love. The Father, God, could not see His own son’s suffering and death on the cross. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Jesus was rapidly approaching to His death. He was getting thirsty due to His heavy bleeding on the cross. It was not all. Jesus was being separated from the love of God. His spirit was in great thirst for love of His Father. Father God had to left Jesus alone during this dreadful hour. Why? Only Jesus. Yes, Jesus alone had to go through the eternal separation from God to fulfill the mission – saving all humanity through His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus was a fully human, and was dying. Out of His thirst for God’s love, he barely uttered:
"I thirst." (John 19:28)
Upon hearing, the soldiers offered wine on a sprig of hyssop to Jesus without knowing Jesus’ true internal spiritual thirst out of His loneness under the crushing power of sins and the separation from Father God and His love. Jesus, as a perfect human, truly experienced our weakness, loneness and our pain. One single person cannot bear the consequence of one’s own sin (this is the reason why we need Savior.), but Jesus took the weight of the sins of all humanity. Can we imagine the magnitude of the size and weight of what Jesus experienced? Because of this brave and sacrificial act, we are saved. Jesus accomplished His mission on earth by being a perfect sacrificial lamb and sacrificed. Then Jesus said,
“It is finished.” (John 19:30p)
Yes, the ultimate salvation plan had been just completed, and the power of death and Satan was utterly destroyed before Jesus. Jesus became the Savior for all those who believe Jesus as one’s own savior. Jesus was no sin at all, but He was crucified for our sins and transgressions. This is the power of the cross. Through the cross, we have received the eternal life having victory over sins and death forever. Finally, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46b)
It was the moment that we all received the final victor over death and sins forever! Give thanks to God and His Son Jesus Christ. Of course, we now fully know this fact and truth, but at that time, the people did not understand the fact and did not know this truth. Although it was the victorious moment, but they were in sorrow and confusion over the death of Jesus, because they only believed as their Messiah on earth.
Some of the women still loved Jesus. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, those women bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. They were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” The tomb was sealed with a large stone by the people who worried and feared about Jesus. Although they killed Jesus, they remembered what was told by Jesus, “I would die and live again after three days.” As a result, the tomb was completely sealed and secured by soldiers. They clearly knew this, but as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said,
“Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” (Mark 16:6-7)
Yes, Jesus was risen! He was risen indeed. All of the women at the tomb were astonished because they could not believe what was told by Jesus that He would die but live again. But they started remembering Jesus’ word. Upon hearing the women’s story, some of the disciples ran to the tomb, and found the tomb was empty. In confusion, they gather in one place and closed the door in fear.
On the evening of the same day, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said,
“Peace be with you!” (John 20:19b)
Jesus found His disciples in confusion and fear. The first sentence was “Peace be with you.” What a comforting message of Jesus, which was exactly the most wanted message.
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said,
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21b)
Jesus comforted them again. Jesus did not reckon what was the wrong doing of the disciples. Instead, He commissioned His disciples for His future ministry, which would come after His departure. What was the first mission then? Please note that at the cross, what Jesus did first. Jesus forgave those who sinned against Him including those who were crucifying Him. Forgiving enemies and those harming us, as human beings, is impossible. But it is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in the love of Jesus Christ. Sure, then, Jesus poured the Holy Spirit on them, saying,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22b-23)
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit in them along with His first mission – forgiveness. Why did Jesus choose forgiveness as His first mission for His disciples? This is the first step to resolve all conflicts between humans on earth. Yes, God acted first for us by forgiving us on the cross. Then what should we do? Of course, forgiving others. We all know the Lord’s prayer, which was taught by Jesus during His early ministry. Please recite the Lord Prayer, if able, and listen carefully each word by word. How many things that we should do in the prayer? In fat, there is only one thing that we should do – forgiving others:
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12)
It is clear forgiving others is the precondition for us to get His forgiveness. In other words, if we do not forgive others, we should not expect God’s forgiveness on us. We all also know that truly forgiving others unconditionally is beyond our human ability. Indeed, our true and unconditional forgiveness is the final frontier where no man has gone before. However, in Jesus and through Jesus, it is possible. Please let not forget -- forgiving others is the first step toward fulfilling Go’s will on earth. After all, the cross is the proof and assurance of God’s forgiveness on us. Jesus is risen! Yes, He is risen indeed. As Jesus forgives us, we should forgive others.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)