"Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest."
"Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He showed
them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the
Lord." John 20:19, 20
That was a weary and heavy-laden band gathered on the
evening of the first great Easter. These disciples were like the sea driven
by the wind and tossed. Hope alternately rose and fell. Tidings reached
those who had partially revived their spirits, but such were conflicting and
unauthenticated. "How different," would they not say one to another, "our
present experiences, from the memories of three past years of tranquil peace
and unbroken love, when we sat at His feet listening to His elevating
teachings, or beheld the halt and the lame and the blind cured by healing
word or touch; or when, on the stormy deep, we listened to His 'Peace, be
still;' or when we mingled with the crowd in which many a heart, aching with
deeper-seated than bodily disease, was hushed by the assuring invitation,
'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.'"
Peace is the yearned-for boon of every weary soul.
Some may recall the story of Dante, seated in contemplative mood outside the
convent gate. One of the inhabitants to whom he had entrusted the manuscript
of the "Inferno," observing his pensive dejection, asked what it was for
which he was longing. To the twice repeated question the, reply was
given--"Peace!" What was thus whispered by the lips of the great poet,
Christ alone can meet and answer.
How He answers it may best be gathered from the sequence
which forms the remarkable feature in the words of our present verse and
narrative. There was no interval for questioning thought--the words of the
recording evangelist are at once added--"And when He had so said, He
showed them His hands and His side." It was the revelation of a
crucified Savior. It was, in His own Person, the truth that was to be
afterwards sounded forth, first by accredited apostles, and which, through
the succeeding ages, was to form the central doctrine of Christianity and
Christian teaching--"Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
There is a second sequence, a second act in this divine
Easter drama. The affrighted disciples, who, we are told in the context,
"were assembled for fear," and had in their terror locked or barred
the chamber door, were reassured. At the vision of this crucified One, with
the spear-thrust and nail-marks, "the death of the cross," their terror was
exchanged for gladness. "THEN were the disciples glad when they saw the
Gracious Hospice! "He loved me, and gave Himself for
me"--Christ, not the Example and Pattern (though that, as we know, He was
conspicuously also), but "Christ crucified, the Power of God unto
salvation to every one that believes."
Show me, Lord, by faith, Your wounded hands, Your riven
side! The peace secured and bestowed in this Hospice is "peace
through the blood of the cross."
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12