Ask TJ why tomorrow is so special, and he'll tell you with an excited smile, "Because Jesus conquered the grave!" He of course is quoting his (and his mom's) favorite worship song-- "Mighty to Save". Oh, the child-like faith! TJ is absolutely STOKED for Easter. Sure, the egg hunt and dinner with the cousins after church get him excited... but more than that, he gets to sit with Gram and Gramps tomorrow and worship with us, as we celebrate the Resurrection. The advent of our faith. The event that gave us the hope we now have. The peace that we can let settle upon us when we remember Leslie... the anticipation of meeting her one day again. Tomorrow we celebrate our faith in the One to Whom we are redeemed. Today. Forever.
Friday was about a cross. A crown of thorns. Friday night's service moved me deeply in to a tearful place of pain and repentance. I thought of death. I thought of Leslie's death. Of the fate the God-Man gave Himself to, willingly, that Leslie could have hope throughout her own battle... throughout her journey toward her own "empty tomb". Katie's sister Sarah-- profoundly enough-- just celebrated her 4th "birthday" in Heaven, on Good Friday this year. Katie wrestles with the emotional complexity of death, suffering, pain, resurrection, hope, and faith on her blog Friday night.
Good Friday. What an ironic concept. What's "GOOD" about a man suffering in pain and humiliation on the epitome of evil symbols-- that horribly human torture device... that cross... GOOD Friday?! What is GOOD about dying? Certainly we can say, "she's not suffering anymore". At least there's that... But at its very basic level, death is anything but good. In fact, the opposite of good. Anything that is not good is evil. Evil leads to death. ("for the wages of sin...") Sin-- DEATH-- is really what that cross is about.
The perfect man-- in His very nature, fully GOD-- knows death. He volunteered for it. Humbled Himself to it. So that He could stand there with outstretched arms, welcoming His children home. We are all dying. Some don't realize it until moments before we breathe our last. But indeed, the plight of man is that our days our numbered. However, because Jesus did what He did, no one ever again-- in that moment in which death falls upon them, nor anywhere in the "life process" leading up to that moment-- can ever again call out, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?" Jesus died that no one would again be forsaken at the hand of death.
Yes, Good Friday-- this year, more than any other in my own life-- was about death. Death of Jesus. Death of Leslie. Death of Sarah. The eventual death of even me. Yet, as I poured myself into that night of communion, I couldn't shake this mysterious hope... that the perfect plan-- the purpose-- of this cross and the death it represents, isn't really about the end of a life. It's about the death of SIN... The death of DEATH itself.
I will praise my Savior tomorrow, with all I have within me, that, while Friday was about a bloody cross, SUNDAY, my friends... SUNDAY is about an EMPTY TOMB!! It's tomorrow, Easter... Resurrection Sunday... that JESUS CONQUERED THE GRAVE! Leslie knows that truth more than ever this night. So do I-- though surely not to the extent that she does.
Friday, my sin-- my self-- was laid bare. Crucified with Jesus on the Cross. Tomorrow... In a few short hours, I will raise my arms and open my hands and receive the fullness of life that results. I will drink of His Resurrection. I will testify to the redemption of His people. I will join with the Heavens-- the angels and those whom, like Leslie, have gone before us-- and all creation and proclaim our RISEN LORD!
Enjoy this Easter, friends. For tomorrow is the single day that represents the very essence of joy in this life... that empty tomb.