April 2012 - Vol. 59

The Triumph of the Cross: 
“The Lord has risen indeed”
by Jeanne Kun
When Death and Life contended, 
 the Lord of life was slain. 
A battle strangely ended: 
 he won, and lives to reign.
Easter Sequence, Victimae Paschali Laudes.
Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”(Luke 24:26). The key to understanding Jesus’ mission to save and restore humanity to union with the Father is found in this question and the explanation Jesus gave to his bewildered followers. As he opened the Scriptures to them (24:27), he showed that it was by his crucifixion that he fulfilled his Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. Christians can now look upon the cross not as a shameful instrument of torture but as a sign of victory. Jesus’ crucifixion was a battle that ultimately delivered all humankind from the power of Satan – from sin and from death. And we, who are in Christ, share in this victory.
Jesus went to his death on Golgotha knowing that it was the path to his glorification as well as our salvation.

Jesus went to his death on Golgotha knowing that it was the path to his glorification as well as our salvation. In his last public discourse, he had indicated how – and why – he would soon die, saying, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. . . . And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:27-28, 32-33). And on the very eve of his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, 

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. (John 17:1-5). 
The Fathers of the Church even refer to the cross as Jesus’ “throne of glory.” The crucifixion led ultimately to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, where he is gloriously enthroned at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). 

Jesus showed his followers the wounds in his hands and feet and side to assure them that his resurrected body was the same body that had been crucified (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “[Jesus’] authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm” (645). When death entered the world through sin, we lost sight of our immortality and our heavenly destiny. But, because of Christ’s passion and glorification, we can anticipate with joy that, after death, our own perishable, physical bodies will be raised up and vested with unimaginable splendor. And even now, “he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to [our] mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in [us]” (Romans 8:11). Day by day the risen Lord brings healing, freedom, and transformation to us and produces the fruits of the Spirit in us; ultimately, in our imperishable bodies, we will share eternal glory with Jesus and the Father in heaven.

It is awesome to realize that Jesus retains the marks of his wounds on his resurrected body. They are a badge of his sufferings, like the battle scars proudly worn by a veteran. As Pope Benedict XVI has noted, “The Lord took his wounds with him to eternity. He is a wounded God. . . . His wounds are a sign for us that he understands and allows himself to be wounded out of love for us. ” The scars of Jesus’ crucifixion are the sign of the price he willingly paid with his own body for our redemption, the mark of his passionate love for us.

When the risen Lord appeared to the eleven, he told them: “‘Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead’” (Luke 24:44-46). From its earliest days the Christian church recognized the significance of Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy; its faith in Jesus the Messiah was rooted in God’s word. As St. Paul attested, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). 


1. 1. When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we proclaim our faith in Jesus’ resurrection and “in the resurrection of the body”—that is, in our own future resurrection. Although we cannot comprehend now how our bodies of flesh will be transformed, we know that “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. . . . When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:52, 54).

 How do you show respect for your physical body, which is destined for immortality? How might reflection on your own future resurrected body affect what you do in daily life? 

2. Read and reflect on the following Scripture passages to deepen your appreciation of the victorious nature of Christ’s resurrection and the eternal life that the faithful will come to share with him in heaven:

A week later [Jesus’] disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22)

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18)

In the Spotlight
So Must the Son of Man Be Lifted Up

In his nighttime conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-15), Jesus prophetically alluded to his “lifting up” and glorification on the cross: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3:14-15). The story of the Israelites’ rebellion against God in Numbers 21:5-9 gives us insight into how we are to understand Jesus’ mysterious statement:

The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
The bronze serpent is a “type” or prefigurement of Christ. By looking at the image erected on the pole by Moses, those who had sinned and been bitten by the venomous serpents were cured. Jesus compares this incident with his coming crucifixion to show the purpose of his being raised up on the cross: Anyone who looks on him with faith can obtain salvation, for the cross is God’s remedy or antidote for the sting of Satan and the poisonous venom of sin that infects humanity. As Benedictine monk and Scripture scholar Damasus Winzen wrote: “The fiery serpents are the symbol of the sins of men, and the bronze serpent foreshadows the one who took on the flesh of sins without sin, that through faith in his death for our sins, we may be freed from death” (Pathways in Scripture).

> Next:Contemplating Christ's Passion, by Jeanne Kun
> See also:Freedom from Sin and Death: "A New Creation

Excerpted from The Life-Giving Power of the Cross: Sharing in Christ's Victory, by Jeanne Kun (The Word Among Us Press, © 2011). Used with permission. This book can be ordered online.

Jeanne Kun is President of Bethany Association and a senior woman leader in the Word of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. 

Luke 24:13-47
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” 

They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 

25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 

33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

1. Luke reports that Cleopas and his companion failed to recognize Jesus when he joined them on the road (24:16). What do you think might account for this failure? Do you think the appearance of Jesus’ resurrected body was a factor? Why or why not?

2. How did the two travelers describe Jesus of Nazareth to their unknown companion (Luke 24:19-24)? What were their beliefs about Jesus and their expectations of him before he had been crucified? Why were they so disappointed? Why do you think the two were so “slow of heart” (24:25) to believe?

3. What did Jesus stress in his explanation of the Scriptures concerning himself to his followers (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46)? What does this indicate to you about how the early church viewed the ancient prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures as it formed its understanding of Christ?

4. How did the travelers react to Jesus? Describe the process of their recognition of Jesus and the effect of his explanation of the Scriptures upon them. What does this suggest to you about the power of the word of God? About Jesus’ physical appearance? About his spiritual “presence” and charisma?

5. Since his death on the cross, how has Jesus drawn all people to himself, as he promised (John 12:28)? How is this connected to his glorification?

In the Spotlight
Witness of the Early Church
If you would understand that the cross is Christ’s triumph, hear what he himself also said: “When I am lifted up, then I will draw all men to myself.” Now you can see that the cross is Christ’s glory and triumph.
– Andrew of Crete

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance.

– Leo the Great

Glory be to you, O Christ, who laid your cross as a bridge over death, that souls might pass over it from the dwelling of the dead to the dwelling of life!

– Ephrem of Syria


1. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, have you ever failed to recognize Jesus’ presence or action in your life or felt downcast and disappointed, without hope for your future? What were your prayers to Jesus like then? How did the Lord reveal himself to you and encourage you?

2. How has your knowledge of Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus deepened your faith? What particular word of Scripture has caused your heart to “burn” within you? Why?

3. Recall an instance in your life when you experienced “glory” and/or “victorious new life” coming out of suffering or what seemed like failure and defeat. What did you learn about God and his redemptive power from this circumstance? 

4. How does your personal faith in Jesus’ resurrection and the future resurrection of the dead affect your outlook toward those around you—mortal men and women who, along with you, will “put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53) and live eternally? How does it affect your feelings about your own death?

5. How do you envision Jesus’ glorified body (Luke 24:36-40; John 20:19-20; Revelation 1:12-16)? How do you imagine your own resurrected existence in heaven?

In the Spotlight
The Throne of Love

The chief priests of Jesus’ own people accused him of falsely claiming to be a king (Luke 23:2). Ironically, it was the gentile Pilate who, defying the Jewish elders, ordered that the title “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” be affixed to the cross when Jesus was crucified (John 19:19-22). In the Tradition and writings of the Church, Jesus’ crucifixion is frequently called his “enthronement” – an expression of kingship – because the cross, the instrument of his death, was also recognized as the means of his glorification and a sign of his victorious reign. 

The throne of this King whom we worship . . . is the Cross, and his triumph is the victory of Love, an almighty love that from the Cross pours out his gifts upon humanity of all times and all places.

– Pope Benedict XVI

We venerate the cross as a safeguard of faith, as the strengthening of hope and the throne of love. It is the sign of mercy, the proof of forgiveness, the vehicle of grace and the banner of peace. We venerate the cross, because it has broken down our pride, shattered our envy, redeemed our sin, and atoned for our punishment. . . .
 Whatever we accomplish for God, whatever we succeed and hope for, is the fruit of our veneration of the cross. By the cross Christ draws everything to him. It is the kingdom of the Father, the scepter of the Son and the seal of the Holy Spirit, a witness to the total Trinity.

– Rupert of Deutz


This week, share your faith in Christ’s resurrection with someone you know who is facing challenging circumstances (for example, physical illness, a financial crisis, depression, or a sense of hopelessness). Encourage this person to hold fast to the “eternal perspective” that St. Paul offers in Romans 8:18-19 and 22-25:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  

copyright © 2012 The Sword of the Spirit