April 9—At the Cross

Well might the sun in darkness hide,

And shut its glories in,

When God, the mighty maker, died

For his own creatures’ sin. (“At the Cross” by Isaac Watts)

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. . . . Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:45–47, 50–53 NLT)

After Aslan is slain by the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan and Lucy are watching the sun rise as they mourn his passing when they hear a great noise. They turn around to find the Stone Table where Aslan had been killed had been broken in two and Aslan’s body was nowhere to be seen. After the resurrected Great Lion makes his presence known to the two girls, he answers their question as to how he was alive again. He tells them that the Witch, had she known of the deeper magic from before the dawn of time, “would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” Though this is only a story written for children – and children at heart – something like this took place at the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus was a willing victim who had committed no treachery or any other wrongdoing, yet He died so that we might live, and His death led to the end of death itself, causing death’s grip on a number of godly men and women to seem to loosen, allowing them to awaken and walk freely out of their tombs. In the words of C. S. Lewis, the resurrection of Jesus caused death to start working backwards. Jesus was not the first person to come back from the dead; there are a handful of stories throughout Scripture where people were revived from the dead. Christ Himself performed a few resurrection miracles. Yet, His own resurrection did more than reverse His death; as the firstborn of all creation, Christ was also the first to experience a permanent resurrection. Lazarus and the others who were raised from the dead experienced death a second time; Jesus was resurrected in a new body that will not know death.

This new life after death that is given to all who call on the name of Jesus and accept His grace in their life is not solely an insurance policy for after this life is over. This new life begins even now and only requires that, as Paul calls us to in Galatians 2, we crucify our old selves with Christ so that He might live in us. What part of your old self is in need of crucifixion today?