Behold, Israel: your King.
There He is, in all His glory: bruised, naked, bleeding, humiliated, betrayed. What outrage; what sorrow. It’s nonsensical, that this would be the death of the Messiah. The cross is no symbol of salvation or triumph; it’s an execution device for common criminals. What agony He must feel, His pierced hands and feet weighed down by His incredibly human body. This, the King of all creation: endlessly vulnerable.
It is finished.
His final words. For all who love Him, though, it’s not finished. How could it be? He has passed, and they are left in the wake of it—Peter, Mary, John and Luke and all the apostles and disciples, the centurion who declared Him righteous, the holy men who desired His death. Now they must take His precious body from the cross; now they must wipe the blood and sweat from His lifeless skin; now they must close the tomb. This is not a Good day, not a Holy day: this is a day for weeping.
Death has won.
The shock, the agony, the sorrow. Of course, we now know the end of the story—death has not won; He has trampled it under His feet. He has removed our brokenness from us as far as the east is from the west; He has stripped death from us and clothed us with His life. He rose and He reigns and one day He will return, and that day will be the true Easter, the day when all Creation will be resurrected.
But for now, let’s not leave this moment: this Maundy Thursday, this Good Friday, this Holy Saturday. Let’s not jump to the Easter celebration so quickly. This vulnerability, this absolute sacrifice, this willingness to suffer untold agony, this lavish love: this is what our faith is built on. How outrageous that God, whom death and sin have no right to touch, would so willingly take them upon Himself?
It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.
I have a hunch that this suffering Messiah has much to teach us about dying. How often have I prayed for healing while refusing to surrender? How many times have I asked for resurrection without being willing to confront the things within me that must first die? Jesus is inviting us not just into His resurrection, but into this moment, too: His crucifixion.
My church, we’ve followed Jesus into the wilderness. We’ve seen Him on the cross and wept. And now we wait, with bated breath, for the full glory of the resurrection. And isn’t this what life is? Don’t we now, with lifted gazes and hopeful hearts, pray that the Kingdom of God would break open upon the earth? And yet, behold: miraculously, undeservingly, we are the Kingdom. We have been crucified with Christ—He lives within us intimately, mysteriously, beautifully—and He has asked us to resurrect with Him daily.
So, my friends, let’s rise from the dust. Let’s step deeper into the baptismal waters, those waters of death and resurrection. Let’s take up our crosses and follow our King and lift our eyes to the horizon—
See, the Son is beginning to rise.
“He has stripped death from us and clothed us with His life” is a quote from the writings of Martin Luther.