You’d all be familiar with the great Michelangelo fresco on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. It captures that moment in the unknown future when all will be resolved at the Last Judgment. The fresco depicts Christ at the centre, hand raised in merciful judgment, with his mother next to him, and surrounded by saints and sinners, some rising to heaven, others descending to hell. It is a powerful image, perhaps awesome might be a good word to express what Michelangelo captures.

For me, the most striking feature of this fresco is the age at which Michelangelo captures Christ. It is not an old or wearied Christ we see—no haggard looks or suffering face, no wasted or wounded body, as we typically see in the crucified Christ. Rather, Christ the Judge is young—he has an incredible vitality about him: muscular, bushy hair, no beard, even a six-pack abdomen. At the end, when all is to be resolved in Christ, he stands before us eternally young.

Our images of Jesus Christ can have an impact on us. If we look only to Christ on the cross—broken in body and abandoned in spirit—then we might fail to see Christ in his resurrection, newly created and eternally young. We do not need to abandon the first for the second, but we could well do with seeing Christ on the cross from the perspective of his resurrection. For it is in the resurrection that new life, renewal, transformation becomes the enduring image of Christ.

The importance of this comes through strongly in each of our Easter readings for today, and especially in the image of repentance. Firstly, we heard from Peter, speaking to the crowds at Pentecost. As he said to them, ‘Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

Then there is John, in his short letter to the early Christian community: ‘If anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away.’

And finally, we heard directly from the risen Jesus to his disciples: ‘Peace be with you … Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations.’

Our image of our sinfulness often finds its expression in the face of Christ on the cross. And that is perfectly okay. But it also needs to be seen from the side of Jesus’ resurrection. This is what is captured in our readings today. It is the image of our re-creation in forgiveness, and our renewal in repentance. We, too, through Christ’s death and resurrection, are made young again.

This occurred for us all when we were baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection. There, we were re-born, re-created, made young in Christ. But this was not another end point for us. The re-creation in Christ’s death and resurrection is ours when we are renewed by repentance and forgiveness. This is our calling, and the forever repeated first announcement of Jesus: repent and believe in the Good News. In the risen Christ, we are invited to stand alongside that eternally youthful Christ as we turn towards God.

Indeed, in the eternally young Christ, peace be with you.