Saturday, March 19, 2016

In Jesus's Grave Lie Man's Sins

       The story of Peter is not the most beautiful of the tales that gather about the Man of Galilee, but it is the most precious, for it is a story of a man who fell, but rose again.
       Those three nights and two days glared in Peter's mind through his after years as one hideous dream; that calm Figure, majestic, in spite of the bonds; the rabble crew about the fire; and then that girl's face, Hashing out the challenge that struck him with terror, so that ere he knew, he had stammered out his denial. But clearer than all remained that look of pain and love that pierced him to the heart and drove him forth into the night.
       But neither shame nor fear could hold him in his hiding while his Lord was being done to death; so through the day he followed the crowd, safe hidden, and watched for that display of power that would set him free; watched in vain.
       He followed to Calvary. From behind the rocks he watched the horrid scene. In his own hands he felt the drive of the nails, upon his own brow the tearing thorns, and in his own side the spear thrust to the heart- felt, but dared not utter his cry.
       Then, what place in all the world was left for the man who has dishonored his name, broken his faith, denied his Lord? The city? It is overflowing with the jubilant slayers of his Master. The upper room? There is no place for a traitor in that band. Outside the city wall where they cast their refuse, out to Gehenna, on that rugged ridge, illumined by the baleful fires that never sleep, Peter spends his weary night. Suddenly through the grey light he sees a figure flying as if pursued by demons. The hunted man flings a rope round over the bough of a tree, trembling hands adjust it about his neck, then hurls himself headlong, down upon the rocks below. "Poor Judas! You waited for no look of piercing love when you went forth into the night."A new terror shakes Peter's soul, and drives him to the upper room. With relentless self-abasement, he told them his sin and shame, ending, "And on me cursing he cast a look as if he loved me still." With humble compassion they took him to their hearts, too conscious of the coward in themselves to be hard with the man who had denied and suffered. And then through the morning light sounded the sacred trumpets from the temple announcing that the Great Feast Day was upon them, while their Lord, the Son of God, lay dead in Joseph's tomb.
       Night falls. The last glad trumpet note has ceased, the sounds of the street die down. The men doze off into horrid dreams, but the women do not sleep, they steal down the stairs. It is for them to anoint and garb that precious body for its final rest. Peter waits behind, and over the sad hours of the past days and nights his heart makes weary pilgrimage.
       But hark! There is a sound of running feet! The door bursts open, and the women fling forth their news, their glorious, unbelievable news. The tomb is empty! He is alive!
       "God of Abraham! God of the living, can it be?"
       Peter is down the stairs and up the street, running hard, after him, John.
       But they may save their breath. The tomb is empty, rifled of its dead. Greatly wondering, they return to their company. It is after all only a silly woman's tale.
       But upon them, the door opens again. It is the Magdalene, calm and controlled, but with eyes and face aglow with exultant glory. "He is alive! I have seen him with these eyes! I have held him by the feet! He knew me! He called me by my name! And he gave me a message to you, Peter."
       "No, no, not to me. Not to me."
       "Yes, he said distinctly, 'Tell Peter'‚" and she gives her message. 
       But Peter is gone to find his Lord. With one swift leap, his heart has passed from despair to faith.
        Out of the city gate, but not to Calvary, not to the tomb. Out to the old trysting spot on Olivet, up to the garden where they were wont to meet.
      "Oh, to see him once again, to tell him of my love." His sobs grow quiet, and he becomes aware of a Presence.
       Was it a moment, or was it an hour? Peter never knew; but when he came to himself he was on his way back to the city. They who met him wondered at his face. "I have seen him," he said, "and HE IS JUST THE SAME!"
       Tell the world that Jesus is the same.
       Tell the sick of the world he is the same; his sympathy as quick, his help as ready as of old.
       Tell the outcast he is the same; his fine chivalry making him their champion as before. 
       Tell those who mourn their dead he is just the same; his word as
mighty to revive.
       Tell the whole world, burdened with sin and sorrow, that Jesus, through the glorious risen Lord, is the same; as much a man as ever, as strong and tender as when he walked with the joyous crowds by the sunny waters of Galilee. JESUS IS THE SAME. 
       "He is the same" mused Peter to his friend, "and yet, he is not the same."
       "Said he nought to you of your ------?"
       "Of my sin? Nay, one word only, as I poured it forth, 'Speak no longer of your sin; it lies buried in my tomb' Then it was he spake most like a King, as if he had won the right to bestow his pardon where he would."
       Came a day when they led Peter forth to meet his doom. And when they would have laid him on his Cross, he spoke, "Suffer my head to lie where lay his feet." And so they crucified him, unafraid, for he knew that through Jesus's grave lay the path to life and that in Jesus's grave lie man's sins. by Ralph Connor

"Praise You Just The Same" 

"I recorded this song for my first album ' He Hears Me'. Kevin Hunt on piano. It always lifts me after a tough day or if I'm going thru a hard season. The pictures are dedicated to the raw beauty of Scotland." Deborah Dicembre

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