Article of the week: Cross and resurrection

16 April 2022

An Easter meditation by Major Alistair Dawson

Article of the week: Cross and resurrection

LOOKING at the cross, how do I envisage it? I am not so much looking at sacrifice as togetherness – the love of the Father enjoying, sharing the love of his Son. The cross reveals the unity of the divine and the human.

Heaven and Earth may fade and flee,
First-born light in gloom decline,
But, throughout eternity,
I am his and he is mine.

(SASB 723)

If Jesus died into the love of God, then the love of the Father was made complete – fulfilled in the death of his Son, for as Jesus said: ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).

It is a lovely thought – resurrection is Jesus’ life in God’s. We get so tied up and twisted with the thought and idea of resurrection, and yet it finds its answer within relationship.

‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ said Jesus. ‘The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’ (John 11:25). In resurrection we are at one with God through Jesus, our living head: ‘He is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead’ (Colossians 1:18).

Jesus died into the love of God, into the love that had sustained him and called him into action.

By the love that never ceased to hold me
In a bond nor life nor death shall break,
As thy presence and thy power enfold me,
I would plead fresh covenant to make.
From before thy face, each vow renewing,
Strong in heart, with purpose pure and deep,
I will go henceforth thy will pursuing,
With my Lord unbroken faith to keep.

(SASB 634)

Love finds its destiny in God, from where it came, to whom it belongs and through whom it shall always be.

It seems to me that the overriding message of the cross is not the agony or the suffering – they are the consequence of the moment, the inevitability of the cross. The death of my Lord and Saviour has a far greater meaning for my life and future, for everything Jesus endured was offered up and secured into his Father’s hands: ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).

I need to tread carefully here, but does the Resurrection begin with those words of Jesus? And is our resurrection the moment of release when God is trusted to take over? Is it the moment when we reach the end of our resources and find that our Father’s full giving has only begun? For God revealed that he had not abandoned Jesus in death but exalted him to new life.

Prior to the formation of the Joystrings in 1964, I remember two of their members, Cadets Peter Dalziel and Bill Davidson, singing the song ‘At the Cross’ (SASB 908). The second verse was my favourite:

In my blindness I thought
That no power could have wrought
Such a marvel of wonder and might;
But ’twas done, for I felt,
At the cross as I knelt,
That my darkness was turned into light.

Then comes the chorus, which for me is a lovely and exciting celebration of the Easter story:

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there, by faith, I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.

God doesn’t always work in stages to help us come to terms with his revelation but, for Jesus, death and resurrection were followed by exaltation: ‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:9–11).

So we can sing prayerfully, joyfully and with conviction:

He is Lord, he is Lord,
He is risen from the dead
And he is Lord.
Every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

(SASB 222)

To conclude with an insight from Paul Tillich’s book of meditations, The New Being: ‘Resurrection is not something added to the death of him who is the Christ; but it is implied in his death… No longer is the universe subjected to the law of death out of birth. It is subjected to a higher law, to the law of life out of death by the death of him who represented eternal life.’


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