| In light of a recent Easter, where God taught me His timeless Love Story’s the same kind of radical from up airplane high. |
I can’t stand sin. It’s the condition that chips away at my intended design, the thing that separates me from the Maker I was made to be around. The condition that Satan pat my back because of, the one he spent 18 years telling me I’m different because I don’t really have, that I must be some holier-than-Thou exception, that I better keep thinking so. The condition that tears families in two, causes capital-letter news headlines, that Satan loves to see brushed off, denied, ignored, underestimated, never ever stood up against.
The Lord says that no, not one is righteous. All have fallen short, all have braked hard at their own little distance from the finish, far from His perfection and His glory. None have measured up or met His mark. All bear the gravity, the reality, the symptoms of the inescapable sin condition. We try our quick fixes and strategy and covering sin up with makeup or performance but we can’t rid ourselves of it alone. No amount of our labor or our striving can fix it, or cure it, or snatch the condition right from our hands. It’s killing us slowly, eating us alive. That’s the point. It’s sin that speeds up our decay. Scripture says the wages–what we earn for sinning–is death. And this death we’ve earned is of an unfamiliar kind, far beyond mere grieving and grave-burying like we’ve tasted the bitterness of. We’ve earned the scariest unknown there is: eternal separation from the Father. But His story’s a Love story rescue mission–and the Father does whatever it takes to get His kids home.
The story didn’t start out pretty or lovely or really anything good. It starts with angry Pharisee religious leaders throwing Jesus down sprawled out in front of governor Pilate, screaming, Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him! Who is this ordinary man to claim power and authority and God-glory? His attire was bloodied long before he reached Calvary’s hill. Beaten by handmade weapons intended to nearly-kill but leave threadbare, wedged between feisty crowds that mocked him and spat on him and shoved him and wished him dead, he carried the cross for miles and miles and miles. At the hilltop, they pierced his hands and his feet, nailed him to the cross that my sin warranted. Thorn-crown pressed deep into his temple, royal robe slapped atop battered open wounds. He breathed his last breath and daylight disappeared. In walked Jesus, to do what I couldn’t. He took the cup that called for death. He took the cup the Lord called for, the one with my name etched all over it.
there in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
He was no victim. He chose this cup, this kind of exit. My Jesus died to unwind the wages and wash me clean and all-cured from the sin condition. He died so that I’d be made new. The cross of Jesus Christ took all of our yesterdays–every moment lived within the confines of our sin condition–and fixed us, cured us, snatched the condition from our very hands. And it’s not even the climax. This next part alters our Forever.
Joseph of Arimethea approaches the same Pilate that said yes to the crucifixion, asking for Jesus’ body to honor him by proper burial. Joseph takes Jesus’ body, wraps it in fresh linen, and places it into a empty tomb. The Marys watched firsthand nearby as a huge, heavy stone was rolled in front of the entrance to shut up the space. The next day, a mob of chief priests and Pharisees ran frantic to Pilate, “Sir, sir! We can’t help but remember, while this Deceiver was still alive, he said he’d rise 3 days post-death. You must quickly order that the tomb be made secure and untouchable until the third day arrives. For if not, those on his side may come and steal his body, and lie to the people claiming this Jesus has been raised from the dead. This fraud will be worst than his first!” Pilate understood, finding and ordering the mightiest guards to make the tomb as secure as they knew how and to stand by through the night.
Three days later, the Marys went to Jesus’ tomb on the day of the Sabbath–clinging to mustard-seed belief in his three-day promise. A wild earthquake shook the ground as an angel of the Lord rolled the heavy stone aside and sat upon it. His appearance, like lightning; his clothes, white as snow. The mightiest of guards shook spellbound and speechless. The angel assured the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was indeed crucified. He’s not here. He has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he once lay. Then go, quickly! Find his disciples and tell them he’s risen. Meet him in Galilee, he’s gone ahead of you there. You’ll see him face to face.” The Marys hurried away, afraid yet abundant in joy, and ran to find his disciples. Then suddenly, they saw Jesus! The women ran to him, clasped his feet, and worshipped him right then and there. They saw the scars in His hands and His side and His feet. It’s their same Jesus, alive again!
The most glorious day: Jesus rose from the grave! Just as he said he would. It’s simple yet fascinating–it’s reality. It defied science, it defied the tomb man swore couldn’t be messed with. It defied and won over and shut down death. And it satisfied, fulfilled just what Jesus always said He would do. The grave—no matter how tightly secured or mightily guarded—could not contain our Jesus or keep him down for long. He took my death and was victorious over it, that I might live. His third day kept-promise meant that we too can have life anew, life all over again—just like Him. A new kind of life: a capital-L life, a second chance at Life after we leave this place. This life marked not by our sin condition, marked not by our failed attempts at fixing or covering up, marked not by that one night or that one year or that one thing. A new kind of Life, an unmarked one.
Jesus took the cup with our name etched on it. He took our sin, our sting of death. We are no longer destined for death–the rightful wage of our sin–because He took our place on our cross to die our death and death couldn’t hold him down. It took him three little days to simply exchange our forever. His scarred-hands hold out to us the free gift of eternal Life, the exact opposite of the wage our sin earned us. An upside-down exchange. As Jesus tackled absolute death and woke to all-over-again Life, he invites us to say yes to the exchange, to the free gift, to a the Someday that offers capital-L, forever Life. I chose it, and I’m ever-chasing it. That’s bound to be a glorious Someday.
In the same way, count yourselves dead
to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because
you are not under the law but under Grace.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
| Romans 6: 11, 14, 23 |
Hey J, You shed precious blood so I’d be washed white. Thanks that you’re alive–that I don’t worship, run to, follow a God who stayed put in a grave. Thanks for breaking sin’s grip and mastery, thanks for inviting me to upside-down exchange yesterdays for the freedom and joy and Life of today ’til forever. Love love love You.