On Good Friday Jill and I took Sarah Grace on a journey to the cross. Our local church in Richmond designs a creative experience telling the story of Jesus’ last hours.
On this occasion one of the final scenes shows a series of paintings of the crucifixion from the Great Masters projected onto a white screen. As I sat in the still, quiet sanctuary viewing a sequence of work from such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Peter
Paul Rubens, I realized they have all seen the one whom they depict. Men, long dead, have passed beyond this world to where their relationship with God has taken them. Freed from time’s constraint they have looked upon the face of the Lord. They have seen the reality on which their earthly art could only speculate, and in a sense, they have seen the result of faith that had previously only found its form from an artist’s palette.
God speaks His word to us through the prophet Zechariah (12:10): They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On the day of the cross we look upon Him who our own actions have slain, and we recall all that He has done for us. We also look forward to a celebration on the Sunday that we call Resurrection Day.
Resurrection from time’s perspective is all about faith. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the great men of faith who preceded the coming of the Christ, (Heb 11:13) were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect (Heb 11:39-40).
What are we looking for in living the Christian life that we have not yet seen? For some it may simply be the salvation of a loved one; for others it may be a strategic advance of the gospel among an unreached people group. How do we view the unseen? With a hint of wishful thinking or with impassioned desire borne of vision shaped by God’s word to us?
The painters of the cross give us glimpses of the suffering of Christ. The artists of the Resurrection present mere mortal interpretations of glory. It is for each of us to lay out a path, through prayer and action, toward what we embrace in faith. But having defined it, we live and work according to the word we have received. And as we take our life and our work to the cross we see His will accomplished through resurrection life.