Preparing for Easter (Saturday): The Borrowed Tomb

tombNow there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. Luke 23:50-52 

And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief.     Isaiah 53:9-10a ESV 


When He walked the earth and breathed our air, my Lord said He had nowhere to lay His head. And here in death, here He lays in a borrowed tomb. A man of means came forward to preserve my Savior’s dignity and lay Him to rest in the earth He Himself created before the start of time.

The mystery… it’s too much for me to understand, too much for me to reconcile.

The very God who wrote a love story at the beginning of time included His own suffering in the darkest chapter.

The very God who wrote a love story at the beginning of time included His own suffering in the darkest chapter.  

I look around, and I see myself reflected in the eyes of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I see their brokenness, and it mirrors mine.

I see the violence in my heart – an unkind thought, a judgment, an annoyance, a scorn. But my sweet Jesus – there was no violence in His hand, and none was found even in the deepest crevices of His heart where no one sees.

And I find myself deceived over and over again by a culture that clashes with the truth. I cringe as I hear myself speak error not only to others, but to myself, as I whisper doubt and end up believing lies. But my Rescuer, there was no deceit in His mouth. He spoke no wrong. He gave no empty threats, no empty promises.

But here He lay in that borrowed tomb after enduring my cross.

My Jesus, the Author of the greatest love story — He could have defeated and even prevented His own suffering. But He wrote chapter after chapter in which He Himself was misunderstood, and mocked, and tortured, and betrayed. And here He lay abandoned. Here he lay alone, crushed by the very story He wrote to save me.

And dare I ask Him why?! Dare I ask Him to interpret His mystery? His thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than this earth, higher than this cold, cold tomb, His ways are higher. His thoughts are higher. His story is much, much deeper and intricate than I could ever write.

So do I trust Him? When I am crushed, do I trust the God who wrote suffering into His own plot? When I choke on grief, do I surrender to the One who poured Himself out as an offering to mankind, spilling His grace everywhere?

Sweet Jesus, my Rescuer, my greatest Hope, I lean into the mystery I can’t understand. I collapse into your redemption plan. But I grieve as you lay there bruised and alone.

Preparing for Easter (Friday): The Temple Curtain

veil

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Luke 23:44-47 


Jesus inhaled His last breath and exhaled grace. The sun hid, and hope was swallowed up by the dark.

Panicking, the crowd ran down Golgotha, but those next to the cross had nowhere to go. They had journeyed with their Friend to His death on Jerusalem’s outskirts, the city that had mocked and rejected Him. So how could it be a city for them ever again? They hadn’t brought lanterns, but truly, their souls felt darker than the path before them. They stumbled through the rocks and weeds, through the broken edges of a foot-worn path whose fragments reminded them of Jesus’s torn body.

From Golgotha’s height, this temple was in view — with all its rules and boundaries and religious ones hovering near the outside, hoping to get God’s favor.

And though Christ had breathed his last on the cross, God’s presence was now forever accessible. That intimidating curtain, that “no admittance” curtain separating God’s dwelling place in the temple was torn – literally torn – in two. The Lamb had been sacrificed, His blood had been spilled, and God violently ripped the veil of separation.

His fierce longing and love for His people could never be denied, and even the hardened Centurion who witnessed it all felt Truth move in his heart.

Maybe it feels safer for you to hover from a distance than witness the ripped curtain hanging with its shreds. Maybe the rules and checklists of the Law feel less risky to your desperate heart. Or, maybe the darkness is still shadowing your hope as you stumble along a fragmented path.

But, what’s redemption without the unraveling? What’s everlasting peace without the broken, uneven path leading us there?

Friend, this Rescue Plan is for you. This intense love proven on a cross is for you.

Can you feel His pursuit?

photo source | Jametlene Reskp

Preparing for Easter (Thursday): The Other Cross

3Crosses 1

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43 


How did my life come to this? He was so scared. He had faced humiliation before — he had been beaten and exposed many times before today, his execution day. But the darkest fear ever now suffocated his heart as the criminal pushed himself upward to relieve his lungs.

On the edge of death, hanging on a cross, the uncertainty of what was ahead overwhelmed the perpetrator of crimes. All his pride throughout his lifetime couldn’t save him now. The method reserved for the lowest of criminals, crucifixion, stole any hope of purpose, any hope of redemption. His life was over, and he had nothing to offer society, nothing to offer his family, nothing to offer even himself.

He heard the mocking soldiers joke about the Man beside him, but their insults were nearly drowned by a weeping crowd. Who cries for a criminal?! There’s something different about this Man. His neighbor in death seemed to be in a different world, seemed to know something he didn’t. The angst of His face contrasted the divine of His countenance.

Maybe, just maybe, He really is the Christ. Intended as the soldiers’ joke, the criminal had nothing else to cling to. Nothing to lose.

“When you come into Your kingdom, please remember me.”

With no pride to hide behind and nothing to offer, the criminal spoke from his poverty, risking his last traces of dignity.

Even in His death, Jesus embraced those deemed irreparable by culture. He extended His grace to those who have nothing to offer Him. “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise. I see your lifetime of sin, and I see your desperate ache. I am reaching toward your helplessness and want to be in relationship with you for eternity.”

And friend, He’s reaching toward you, too. Those of you dancing between pride and shame, self-righteousness and brokenness, He’s reaching into your exhaustion to rescue and repair and restore and redeem. He walked the hill of Golgotha to His death for you. For me. For His Bride.

Preparing for Easter (Tuesday): The Unseen Story

story227 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23:27-31 


There were throngs of commoners, local women who were unknown, shrieking and mourning over the torn Man stumbling by. Some hid their eyes from the suffering, but those who dared to look wailed with grief and fright. The story of Jesus’s torture had spread like wildfire as injustice burned fear deep within their souls.

The self-proclaimed Messiah seemed to always surround Himself with ordinary people, and now, too, even on His execution day, He engaged nameless individuals in the crowd.

To their surprise, Jesus turned. He turned and looked right at them and predicted their suffering. “Your city,” He warned, “your city will be destroyed. Weep for your future. Weep for your children’s future. You will seek refuge from destruction and have to flee from what’s familiar to find it.”

Predicting the destruction of Jerusalem that would later come in AD 70, Christ used His own suffering to teach about Jerusalem’s coming doom. City-dwellers and rural residents alike longed to be rescued from oppressive Roman rule. For years, they had begged God for a political leader only to meet a Messiah who spoke mysteriously about a world beyond what they could see. They wanted relief for their everyday, but He spoke of peace for eternity. They wanted an alternative to crooked laws, but He offered deliverance from their sin that was staining their choices and relationships and communion with Jehovah.

“You’ll have to flee what’s familiar…” Challenging them to consider a kingdom beyond what they could see, Jesus offered something bigger than even the Roman empire. 

And He calls us, too. The Restorer of what’s broken calls us beyond what’s tangible, beyond our temporary comforts, in order to find healing.

It’s easy to forget, isn’t it? It’s easy to forget we were made for a different world. We imagine relief from this tangible world, but Christ’s deliverance is bread for the famished soul; it’s peace for the war waging within our heart and thought-patterns.

Are you begging for a change in circumstances? The Rescuer sees you and is offering to transform you.


photo source | steve halama

Preparing for Easter (Join Me)

Train 2I seem to have stepped on a fast-moving train. I don’t remember boarding, and I certainly didn’t know it would move at this speed. I think I would have chosen something else.

I look around me, and I see beauty. I really do. I see beauty in the scene outside my window, and I pause for a second to breathe deep and drink it all in. But I’d rather be breathing deep on the other side, feet standing their ground, motionless. And I see beauty in the faces of those outside, watching my train race by their peace. They’re all so different, and I wish I could hear every single one of their stories.

But I’m racing instead, journeying to who knows where at record speed.

It’s humbling. I’ve learned to set boundaries, but now they’re mocking me. I’ve learned to say “no”, but I’m clearly not in control right now. I’ve promised over and over to live, but it’s taking great effort to not be numb.

In one week, I’ll celebrate Christ’s resurrection. I’ll delight in His triumph, and I’ll claim the hope that comes in knowing there’s a story bigger than my own. I’ll read that rescue plan with my name on it, and I’ll be amazed life truly can come from death. I’ll remember I was created for a different world where dying and suffering and bad choices and sin will be no more. I’ll exchange loneliness for eternal community with God… insecurity for the bliss of not thinking about myself… shame for Christ’s righteousness.

But I’m racing, and I don’t want to miss it.

Maybe your life is moving too fast, too. Maybe you had every intention of a Lent reading plan, but now you’re just trying to wake up from the detachment. Maybe you’ve forgotten you were created for a different world, and the urgency of your everyday is forefront on your mind.

I invite you to jump off the train with me and pause. Come with me into six different stories from just one day in history before we celebrate on Easter morning. We’ll slow down and touch some tangible things from Christ’s execution day. We’ll turn them over and over in our hands, and hopefully our hearts will follow. We’ll ponder and reflect and in doing so, we’ll be able to celebrate Christ’s resurrection that much more on Sunday.

A path. A story. A game. A cross. A curtain. A tomb.

Yes, instead of racing, we’ll open our eyes and ponder how each of these elements in Luke 23 connect to not only our own stories but with an eternity we can not see yet. We’ll start on Monday.

Monday | The Immigrant’s Path
Tuesday | The Unseen Story
Wednesday | The Game of Mockery
Thursday | The Other Cross
Friday | The Temple Curtain
Saturday | The Borrowed Tomb
Easter Sunday | Resurrection: Just the Right Time

I hope you’ll join me.

goodfriday

photo source (train) | Femke Ongena
photo source (cross) | Jametlene Reskp