I have a drawing in my files which is an unusual depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. It is entitled "The Other Side of the Cross" and it shows the Roman soldiers behind the cross, gambling for the clothes of Jesus. In the drawing, those Roman soldiers are nonchalant, distracted, and greedy. This was, for them, just another crucifixion, another execution, another Jewish pretender, another trouble-maker to be eliminated. On their side of the Cross, this was no big deal. It would almost be ignored. They just dealt the cards and rolled the dice and laughed and ignored it all, waiting for it to be over. From their side of the cross this was just another day, another chance to win something for nothing.

There was another side of the cross, represented by those who jeered at this Jesus, saying, "Come on down and save yourself, and prove you are the Messiah!" Those who hated Jesus were glad to see him gone. Some had been disappointed, and they were glad to see this so-called Messiah dead so that a real hero could come along. Others had been threatened by what Jesus taught, and they were glad to see this iconoclast out of the way. And a few others were the typical crowd who always seem to enjoy watching anyone suffer. From their side of the cross, this was all about death and even revenge.

There was another side of the cross represented by the women and the disciple named John who mourned and cried at the death of their beloved Jesus. For those who loved Jesus, this was the saddest moment of history. Their master, their teacher, their friend was hanging there alone, suffering a terrible death, and they were unable to save him. From their side of the cross, this was a terrible defeat.

But there was yet another side of the cross, the side that we call Easter. From an Easter perspective, the cross is a victory. Don't get me wrong, God wept when Jesus died on the cross, just as God weeps with any of us who lose a loved one. But from the Easter side of the cross, God has declared a victory over sin and death. What appeared to be a defeat and a tragedy has become the symbol for all who follow Jesus, a symbol of victory.

So the question for us during this Easter season is this: which side of the cross will we live on? A lot of people live on the soldiers' side of the cross, oblivious to the meaning of this Easter season. Some people even live on the enemies' side of the cross, ignoring Jesus or opposing his ways. Other people live on the disciples' side of the cross, seeing only the pain and suffering of the Christian life, but somehow missing the victory and new life that it offers.

We are called to live on the Easter side of the Cross, grateful for the sacrifice, forgiven for our past failures, and empowering to live in the victory of the Cross. May God help us all to live on the Easter side of the cross.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner