Christ is risen and we have mercy
He descends to hell in order to reach the very depths, and emerges victorious from there – for what?
Piero della Francesca. The Resurrection of Christ (c. 1460)
There are secrets that will remain secrets forever. We do not and never will know how the greatest miracle of the Resurrection of Christ was accomplished.
Maybe He came back to us at early dawn, in that unusually quiet half-morning-midnight hour, when the most stubborn owls had already fallen asleep and the most restless larks had not yet woken up. An hour of silence, an hour of waiting, an hour that almost no one ever sees. When the air is full of gray dawn gloomy and all living things sleep. And the guard slept by the fire at his grave, and the disciples slept, and the whole world slept.
Everything froze, and only in the garden where He was buried did morning dew tremble on the narrow, gray-green leaves in the dawn half-light. The miracle happened in silence, too comprehensive, too incomprehensible to reveal itself. Christ is risen! – the first to know this was the dew slipping on His hair and shoulders, the moist grass barely audible rustling under His feet, the trees that covered Him under the dawn smoky canopy, and the rising sun dazzled illuminated an already accomplished miracle and an already saved world.
We will never, at least not in this life, know the secrets of the first minutes of the Resurrection, His first breath, the first glance from under the newly opened eyelids, the first sound that touched His hearing. He did not call the disciples to stay awake at the Sepulcher – probably no one except the Father could share with the Son the great secret of rebellion from the dead. Nobody watched the Buried, waiting for Him back. No one greeted Him in a new life. He himself comes to us and welcomes: rejoice!
And there is nothing worth the joy more, because it is the joy that the worst is no more. He pierced death, passing through it, filling it with Himself – and there is no longer separation from God, to which the world was doomed after the fall of the ancestors. From now on, death is not a dreary sheol, to which both sinners and the righteous are doomed, not a dead end of the soul, now death is the gates of the Meeting, the threshold at which we meet God face to face.
Several times in the Gospels Jesus speaks the same phrase: the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. He promises: everyone who believes in Me will not perish, but will have eternal life. He tells parables about a king forgiving a slave, about a father embracing a prodigal son. He talks endlessly about mercy and salvation. But none of His interlocutors and listeners know what the price of these words is, that Christ is ready to give in order for our salvation to be in His hands.
A new covenant was made on the blood of God, we, according to the Apostle Paul, are bought at a high price. And this infinitely expensive price was paid not in order to satisfy the justice of the Law and punish sinners, but in order that the Lord could have mercy on those who ask for mercy, unite with those who are longing for Him.
If He wanted to take revenge on us for our sins, then there would be no cross torment and Resurrection from the dead. The law is severe – sinned, died, to hell. There are no sinless people. For this reason, Christ died and rose again, and came to life to rule over both the dead and the living (Rom. 14: 9). There was no need to go through the passions and the Cross, so that by His power only confirm what was already before the Resurrection.
His power is for salvation, only for salvation, and He did everything to get this power to protect us from the worst. The Lord goes to death and rises from the dead to have mercy and pity on us. He descends to hell in order to reach the very depths, and emerges victorious from there – for what? So that there is no abyss in the universe, from where you will not shout to God. He went to hell and freed the captives, released the exhausted ones, saved those who did not dare and ask for salvation.
He Himself covered us from the most terrible that can only be – from eternal separation from God. Now, no one, ever, who loves the Lord and wants to be with Him, will not remain without Him.
Christ is risen!
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