Today there are only clouds above.
But on Easter morning there was a major production in the sky. I watched as one cross after another was painted white against a blue canvas by unknown pilots. All sizes and shapes, these fluffy crosses were drawn in the heavens above Nashville, Tennessee. I am always awed at this sight as it reminds me of the gift of salvation and eternal life, but it was particularly awesome this Easter sunrise.
A glorious spectacle of seven crosses framed my kitchen window; for a moment I wanted to splash the soap bubbles all over the room and dance in joy. Instead I stood still and tried to imagine those who had watched in horror at the Cross as Jesus’ body was nailed, tortured and hung. I wanted to ‘feel’ the cost of life. . .
I took time to pause and ponder the meaning of the empty cross. But does an empty cross mean anything without an empty tomb? I wondered at the women who walked dejectedly to the tomb before sunrise. Did any one of them have even a glimmer of hope that just maybe Jesus had arisen? Had they remembered any words he had spoken? After hearing the unbelievable story from the women, Peter and John went quickly and saw the empty tomb, too.
Peter “went away, wondering, marveling, pondering, reflecting, regarding with wonder and reverence, . . . to himself what had happened”. (Luke 24:12). That verse makes a wonderful story of conjecture and suspense. Where did he go? Did he hide in fear? Perhaps he went to a solitary place, one where he had been with Jesus and the disciples. All the time, remembering, pondering.
Peter had a lot to ponder.
Can you imagine how Peter felt during and after the crucifixion? Earlier he had boasted that he would follow Jesus anywhere–even to death. Then he went to sleep in the garden when Jesus had asked him to watch. Now he remembered Jesus’ look when Jesus told him to put away his sword after striking a soldier. Peter must have moaned in agony as he heard again the crowing of the rooster. How was it possible he could deny the one he truly loved? And three times. Oh, he was shamed. He wrung his hands in torment. What did this all mean? What could he do now? He had so many questions, so many feelings of why’s, what-if’s and should have’s.
And now the tomb was empty.
Peter walked into those morning hours and into the afternoon, pondering, weeping–“wondering what had happened.” We know from I Corinthians 15:5 and Luke 24:34 the risen Lord appeared to Peter-alone. When I try to speculate of that meeting, I can’t. I only see me–weeping in remorse, heaving in repentance and laughing in joy as Jesus forgives me.
Can you just see Jesus hugging Peter? Wow, that is something to ponder.
It is good to ponder–to remember that life, abundant life cost a life– Jesus’ life. It is good to reflect on the horror of the cross and attempt to understand the heavy price of the now empty cross. If we stop with that, though, we miss the rest of the story. Oh, the marveling, the amazement, the joy as we ponder the empty tomb. There can be neither without the other.
. . . dancing in joy.