The death of Jesus

For most of my life the Easter holiday has been all about Sunday. Well, it’s been all about the palm branches on Palm Sunday and then “Resurrection” Sunday a week later. Oh, and I suppose I have to mention the Cadbury Mini Eggs if I’m going to be honest. Let’s just say that I’m definitely giving up Cadbury Mini Eggs for Lent next year. But, seriously, the older I get the more desire I have to really journey through, as best I can, the final days of Christ’s Passion. I’m learning to pause and take each day carefully and individually.

My natural tendency is to rush through, to think already on Maundy Thursday, “But . . . Sunday’s coming!” While this is true, Resurrection Sunday does not “erase” Friday.  Hans Urs von Balthasar says: “The whole New Testament is unanimous on this point: the Cross and burial of Christ reveal their significance only in the light of the event of Easter, without which there is no Christian faith” (Mysterium Paschale, 189). Indeed, Resurrection Sunday legitimates Friday as the cosmic act of God, but it is crucial to recognize that Sunday does not obliterate the significance of Friday. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection does not render his death as theologically unimportant or unworthy of my contemplation. Not to mention, Sunday is most meaningful when we give Thursday night, Friday, and Saturday the respect they are due.

Serendipitously, a few days ago I came across a review wherein Walter Brueggemann opines that the final three days of Passion (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) “must not be homogenized but must be kept discreet and distinctive, each for its own weightiness” (Walter Brueggemann reviewing Alan E. Lewis’ Between Cross and Resurrection). I think Brueggemann may well be on to something. If you’re like me and you’re theologically inclined to move too quickly from Jesus’ death to His resurrection, perhaps for the rest of the weekend (and God willing, future Lenten seasons) we can focus on experiencing the Passion narrative as it progresses from one event to the next.

This evening imagine Jesus enduring despicable violence. I hear his plea: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” I try to imagine the unimaginable. I think of Jesus–everything that is good, pure, beautiful, and noble being defeated by the evil hideousness of human cruelty. Truth, hope, beauty, all nailed to a cross. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Linger here before the cross; think through its implications again. No matter how many times we’ve done it.

“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red”
(George Matheson).

What was it like for Jesus’ disciples that dreadful day? They had just eaten a meal with Jesus the night before. They gathered with him to celebrate the Passover, to remember the glorious night when the LORD had delivered Israel from Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Exodus 12). Now, at long last, they hoped, Jesus, the long expected Messiah, would deliver them from the hands of the Romans. “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel,” two confounded Jesus followers said on their walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:21). Jesus hadn’t come through for them in the way they expected. He died. How could the Messiah die?

Interestingly, several years after the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the apostle Paul would tell the church in Corinth: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Why so many years after Jesus’ resurrection does Paul wish to know nothing except Christ crucified? Because the cross of Christ changes the way we think about everything. Elizabeth Johnson puts it this way: “the cross turns everything upside down and makes the first last and the last first, the wise foolish and the foolish wise, and even the dead alive” (“Life Together in the Household of God” in Shaking Heaven and Earth,  100).

Likewise, in the book of Revelation, John begins to weep loudly because no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth is worthy to open the scroll (Rev. 5:4). But one of the elders tells him: “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Rev. 5:5). And then, John sees; he looks between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders and he sees that the lion has been transformed and now there is a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain (Rev. 5:6). Oh what a beautiful and glorious reversal of imagery; the cross redefines power itself.  Here in the most triumphant of New Testament books, the one who has authority to open the seven seals is a slain lamb. The word of the cross is the power of God! The lion of the tribe of Judah is transformed before John’s very eyes into a slain Lamb.  Jesus’ earthly death, even post-resurrection, remains crucial to his identity as the ruler of all things.

If Jesus’ death remains crucial to his identity as cosmic ruler even after his resurrection and ascension, then we can only conclude that the cross is central, even paradigmatic, for our lives as Jesus followers. This is why Paul can say, among other things: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed . . . always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:8-10). It turns out, manifesting the life of Jesus is directly connected to carrying in our bodies the death of Jesus. Truly, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

We’ve said a few things about Good Friday but let’s also think about the significance of tomorrow, Holy Saturday, when Jesus is dead in the tomb.  We must think about what we’re saying here; we’re saying that God actually died. These are enormous theological claims and they bear immense significance. Faith and hope are non-existent from dawn to dusk. As Alan Lewis says poignantly in regard to Holy Saturday: “death is given time and space to be itself, in all its coldness and helplessness” (Alan E. Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday, 37). A disquieting thought, right? You know, God could have willed from eternity past that Jesus would be resurrected a fragment of a second after he died on the cross. But He didn’t. Holy Saturday: an entire day when God was presumably absent from the scene and no answers were offered but a mocking, chilling silence. We’re talking here about humankind having literally no hope and no confidence of redemption secured or battles won.

What is flooding your mind and heart this Passion weekend?

 

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125 Responses to “The death of Jesus”

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  1. 1
    Dea says:

    I have not rushed through this week either my friend. I have been more introspective about the mystery and grace given to me through the death and life of Jesus than any other time in my life. I have been a Christian for 40 years.

    On Thursday, I blogged about an art piece I saw at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. It is da Vinci’s Last Supper made with spools of thread—over 20,000 of them. It is installed on a wall upside down. It occurs to me that that is an appropriate rendering of what happened that night when Jesus turned the kingdom upside down during that Last Meal.

    Thank you for sharing your heart here. Surely it is a blessing to many and brings glory to God. So glad to be fulfilling my calling in the “upside down kingdom” with you and the siestas of this community.

    • 1.1
      Melissa says:

      These are great thoughts, Dea, and the piece of art you mention sounds amazing! Blessings to you this weekend and beyond.

  2. 2
    Michele says:

    So good to hear from you, Melissa!

    Many things running through my heart and mind. I wrote a post this morning as I was thinking about the details of the crucifixion: http://michelencindy.wordpress.com

    For years I have wondered why Jesus had to suffer. He had to die for our sins, I get that. But OT sacrifices were slaughtered, not tortured and mutilated beyond recognition. Why the flogging? Why did He have to suffer on the cross for six hours? I’ve researched and asked, and I guess I am still just unsettled about it all.

    I could not bring myself to read the passion narratives this year or last, due to my own pain that I’ve been struggling with for 18 months and simply do not know what to do with.

    And I wondered about the third day. What was He doing on Saturday? Your question is also intriguing – what were the people doing? From some of the accounts I imagine they were all confused, depressed, and feeling abandoned and probably betrayed.

    All that and more flying through my head, including my friend buying me a big Reese’s peanut butter bunny rabbit (my favorite) while God has been showing me how toxic sugar really is. But my friend said he will to go to church with me tomorrow, so I am hoping he actually does and that God speaks to him.

    Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

    • 2.1
      Melissa says:

      Thanks for you thoughts, Michele. I’ve asked some of the same questions as you have in years past. Life is such a journey. Makes me chuckle a bit about your friend buying you that big Reese’s peanut butter bunny rabbit while you’re trying to give it up. So good! Cosmic joke 😉

      • Michele says:

        I’m really not trying very hard to give it up. 😉 But I am doing a detox next week, so maybe I should be saying, “Get thee behind me, bunny.” haha

  3. 3
    Denise Untersee says:

    I am so humbled by the love, grace, mercy, and passion of it all.

  4. 4
    Sister Lynn says:

    I love this post, Melissa! A few thoughts…

    On the 7th day, God rested from His work of creation. So now on this new 7th day, the Christ rests from His work of redemption. It is the new gestation of life – eternal life which will be born in full on Sunday.

    This Lent I was forced to reflect on Holy Saturday because I have to give a talk about it. It is a sacred liminal space. For us is time to hold on to the already but not yet… We know Christ is alive forever but yet we wait…

    In the convent we have to hold ourselves in check – prepare what we must for Easter but maintain a atmosphere of quiet restful reflection as we enter into that Sabbath rest as did the disciples.

    Then tomorrow (at 4AM) we hold back to no longer but proclaim HE IS RISEN. CHRISTOS ANESTI! ALIHOS ANESTI!!

    Blessings to all of you, my dear Siestas!!!

    • 4.1
      Melissa says:

      Love these thoughts, Sister Lynn. We’re so lucky to have you around here. You bring such insight coming from a firmly liturgical tradition. I loved what you said about Holy Saturday being a sacred liminal space. And I can imagine that it would be difficult to prepare for Easter and maintain that quiet atmosphere you are referring to. I hope one day you’ll write a book about your experiences in the convent. And yes we shall pray for one another as we wait. Can’t help but wish I were going to be there with you all at 4 a.m. on Sunday 🙂

      • Sister Lynn says:

        I wish it too! Be assured you will be in my heart when we light the Easter fire in the dark and welcome the “Lumen Christi” – the Light of Christ!

    • 4.2
      Michele says:

      I love reading your insights and about your practices there! Interesting point about the 7th day. So, the 6th day God created beasts and humans, and then redeemed humans on the new 6th day. Do the parallels continue? hmmm…

  5. 5
    Christiane says:

    Thank you for a post that honors these holy days of prayer and contemplation.

  6. 6

    I was just in the kitchen decorating eggs with my four kiddos and husband, and then slipped in the office for a bit of quiet.
    It occured to me how our spiritual life goes through such stages. Typically Easter is the time I think about spending time with family, and the kids and having them home for an extra couple of days. A time full of new life with the baby calves and the hopeful time of seeds going into the ground with the expectation of an abundant harvest.
    For the first time ever, I observed Lent, and found it to be a very humbling time… a sacrifice of something I enjoyed turned out to be an exercise in how easy I give in to my flesh!This year I have approached Easter with more solemnity, and seriousness and have tried to focus more on what God was trying to do with my heart. Sometimes it’s hard to keep a disciplined ear turned toward him, when the kids are excited about egg hunts, and new dresses, and shouting HE’S RISEN INDEED! on Sunday morning.
    Thank-you for your thoughtful discussion of Easter Weekend. Your paragraph on Holy Saturday, really got my wheels turning!

    • 6.1
      Melissa says:

      Thanks for taking time to read and add your thoughts to the mix. I definitely hear you on Lent being a very humbling time–I’ve experienced that feeling as well. Blessings to you.

  7. 7
    Lahna says:

    Thank you for inspiring me to think on a different level about the time between the death and the resurrection. You impress me all the time with your scholarship and understanding.

  8. 8
    TJ Weeden says:

    My thoughts this week? Well, I challenge my friends to lay down their lives….to do something with their faith…to give up, not just merely to give up, but to replace it with giving to someone else. Whether it means to serve at the soup kitchen, or take on a World Vision child, or a Compassion Child, or host an orphan through an organization called New Horizons for Children. We did just that last summer, and now are on our way to adoption. He gave it ALL…it’s the least I can do…
    thanks for your blog.
    TJ

  9. 9
    Karen E says:

    Hi Melissa!

    I love it when you post here 🙂

    I come from somewhat conservative Lutheran background, somewhat like Sister Lynn in her Catholicism, where we spend time recognizing the different days of Holy Week as unique parts of God’s plan for salvation. I “can’t” do Easter without Good Friday — resurrection just doesn’t work without the passion first.

    Tonight’s service has me pondering the amazing-ness of Jesus’ CHOICE to die. For me. Wow. I don’t have the best words to describe how loved and graced and humbled I feel. God is so good!

    • 9.1
      Melissa says:

      I love what you said: “I can’t do Easter without Good Friday.” You are blessed to be from a tradition that taught you to value the different days of Holy Week. Thanks for offering your insight! Blessings to you.

    • 9.2
      Shelly Elston says:

      Karen,

      I just scrolled up and read your post after I submitted my comment and I just had tsatellite you that I was raised in the Lutheran faith, as well. Our experience sounds similar.

      Happy Easter to you, Siesta!

      Shelly

      • Karen E says:

        He is risen, indeed! And yet we can only proclaim that because He suffered and died first. Joy to you!

  10. 10
    Jennifer says:

    Hello- My mind has been flooded with Christ’s death as well. I think it is God that is putting this in our hearts together.

    I am humbled and amazed. Looking forward to Easter Sunday, I feel the anticipation and grief that Jesus’s followers had during that time. I have never related so closly to it before, it always seemed like something that happened so long ago, but now it feels new and recent.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and hearing mine!
    God Bless you and your beautiful family.
    Jennifer

    • 10.1
      Melissa says:

      Amazing words, Jennifer. And maybe you’re right, maybe this newness, this freshness, by which we’re seeing Jesus’ death this year is something that God is miraculously doing in our hearts. Blessings to you.

  11. 11
    Karen says:

    I have just arrived home after attending a Tenebrae service for the first time. Very solemn, very meaningful. Certainly prompts reflection. Praise Him!

    • 11.1
      Melissa says:

      Karen, I just heard someone else mention a Tenebrae service. I’ve never heard of it! Will have to do some research.

  12. 12

    There is one song that I listen to over and over and over every Easter week since I got it on a CD several years ago. It’s written by a lady named Patti Hawkins who lives an hour or so from me but I’ve never met her.

    The Chorus goes like this:

    The crowd said,”Defeated!” The world said, “He’s gone!”
    Satan said, “I’ve conquered this world as my own.” The cross said, “It’s finished!” Death said, “It’s done!”
    But the tomb said, “I’M EMPTY!” and my soul says, “He won!”

    I have celebrated the empty tomb all day long! What a Saviour!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  13. 13

    Sober. Thankful. Remembering His sacrifice tonight with communion. Praying my children remember….always.
    Holy Spirit, awaken the world to the cross and victorious resurrection….

    Romans 1:4-5
    And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. (NLT)

    • 13.1
      Melissa says:

      Love your words, Nicole. Always great to hear from you! Looked for you after the service a month ago or so when you were at BCF but couldn’t find you. Next time we’ll have to have coffee or something.

  14. 14
    Michelle Baylerian says:

    Thank you Melissa for reminding us that as Jill Briscoe spoke spending time “pondering” and not rushing through Holy Week. That word pondering has been on my mind & heart in last several weeks. I chose to read the gospel of John. Last night our pastor encouraged us to not rush ahead to Resurrection Sunday but to linger. Our Good Friday service was very reverent with time for reflection.

    Just finished watching Passion of the Christ. My heart was aching inside knowing that I mocked Him and I drove the nails into His body!! I wept and had to turn my face away from the brutality of the beatings. Put myself in Mary’s place watching her son be mutilated in front of her eyes. As a mom I could not even fathom that being done to my daughters.

    I am sitting on my bed speechless, sad, angry, and many more emotions that I could not even express. Anticipating what He reveals tomorrow.

    I am so grateful that I made this pondering a priority this week. I will never be the same again.

    Many blessing to you dear sister and your family as you get to Resurrection Sunday and celebrate His gift!!!

    • 14.1
      Melissa says:

      I will have to check out this Jill Briscoe talk about pondering during Holy Week. I heard her speak once at Moody and she was fab.

      • Michelle Baylerian says:

        Melissa,

        She preached a couple of weeks ago at my church, Elmbrook. To hear her message to to Elmbrook.org and click on sermons. She is an amazing woman of faith! She has been my daughter, Marissas mentor 🙂

  15. 15
    Elizabeth says:

    Melissa –
    I feel compelled to recognize a boldness in you as you throw down a Lenten / Holy Week speed bump. Our culture is conditioned to open Christmas gifts and then Easter eggs with little regard. You bring a legitimacy to the liturgical church calendar with such a post.
    Elizabeth

  16. 16
    Sarah says:

    Wow! Thank you for being willing to put yourself out there and share with us!!! The thought of no hope – beyond my comprehension – I wonder did the world look a little different That day – like a chill in the air could people tell. You really have my mind turning – thanks!

  17. 17
    Heather says:

    What is flooding my heart is the memory of being saved on Easter Sunday. I talk about it on my blog http://defeatdepressiondemons.blogspot.com/2012/03/from-cocolate-bnnies-to-grace.html
    It is an inspirational read. God works in real and amazing ways. Last night was only the second Maundy Thursday service I have ever attended. And I still don’t understand why they call Good Friday “good.” But it is a wonderful yet heart wrenching journey to take in all of the Holy Days leading up to Easter. Thank you for this blog post, it was very meaningful to me.

  18. 18
    MaryLou Smith says:

    During our Resurrection Celebration musical, a little girl hiding her face in her Mom’s chest was heard saying ‘tell me when it’s over’. I think that’s why we rush to Sunday.

  19. 19
    Dana says:

    I just got home from a Good Friday/tenebrae service that was so symbolic and powerful. It ended with Jesus left in the grave. I just read your post and I love your thoughts on giving each day it’s due. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are “easy” to observe. But Saturday? What do we do with it? How do we observe the silence of God? Wrestling through this Lent and Easter with a open heart and a desire to honor Jesus. Thank you for your insightful post!
    Blessings!

    • 19.1
      Melissa says:

      Thanks for reading along, Dana. What church did you attend? I think you’re in the Houston area, right?

  20. 20
    Eva says:

    I savor every word you write when you post and love when you share on this blog! I was brought up in the Baptist faith and the focus was always on Easter, the day of the risen Savior and not so much about good Friday. I think us kiddos just thought it was “good” cuz Easter bunny was hopping nearer to our house:) However, because we post resurrection Christians know the wonderful conclusion to the climatic crucifixion, I think it’s extremely difficult to focus on the in between time (Holy Saturday.) Your post really helps me to ponder tomorrow (Sat.) just how that time might have been with no hope. I cannot even fathom having no hope as a reality, not just a choice.

  21. 21
    Shelly Elston says:

    Melissa,

    You have, once again, set my mind and my heart reeling. I always feel so tender during Holy Week, especially Good Friday. It goes all the way back to my childhood when my Mom would pick us up from school so we could attend Good Friday service. She made sure that day was observed by us for the significance it held. I am now modeling that to my son…reading specific Scripture, watching Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth”, preparing our hearts and home for Easter Sunday.

    But you have given me things to ponder, as you always do. I’m left feeling so grateful for the awesomeness of the Gift. There are no words to describe how I feel about a life lived so purely yet taken so brutally. And to know He died for me, for you, for each one of us stirs up the kind of emotion in me that makes my throat hurt and my eyes sting.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with this community of women. I value your insights and always learn something new or find myself looking at things in a fresh way. I will be reflecting on God’s grace, mercy and love for me as we move through the weekend.

    Happy Easter to you!
    He is risen, indeed!

    Shelly

  22. 22
    Sandy says:

    Thinking about my two boys, ages 8 and 3, and how I would feel…
    If my child died to give the only true cure to the world and provided it willingly…then I heard that some people said that his death didn’t matter or help anyone, or that they didn’t care, or that it didn’t hurt, or wasn’t scary, or said that he wasn’t really my son, or that it didn’t apply to them or today’s modern society, or that his life wasn’t a good example of love and nothing to follow…
    When his short life was entirely about loving and forgiving friends and enemies alike…and with his last words to me asking that I forgive each and every one of them, for they do not understand…
    I’m so glad that God the Father is so loving and giving…and never left the world devoid of hope…and that Jesus was so willing to be the world’s cure… I just want everyone to seek the Great Physician for the healing cure for life’s every need~

  23. 23
    Christy says:

    Thanks for this post for reflection tonight…

    I just recently read an article by Margie Zacharias (Ravi Zacharias’ wife) on suffering, and it’s really helped me to appreciate the depth and breadth of human suffering as it relates to Christ’s suffering, and our transformation into “Christ-likeness” on this earth. I think it’s truly helped me understand, in a more complete way, the ‘why’ of the suffering the Christ endured through His entire life, but obviously most profound on the cross. Thought it might be something others would appreciate or find helpful as well. Here’s the link to it online: http://www.rzim.org/justthinkingfv/tabid/602/articleid/11138/cbmoduleid/881/default.aspx

    • 23.1
      Michele says:

      That is a challenging read.

      “I may find myself in a place of suffering when I am following closest to the Master.”

      Thank you for the recommendation, Christy

  24. 24
    Carol Hulin says:

    Hey Melissa…today my pastor mentioned that on this side of the cross and reserection we can’t imagine how the disciples must have felt like on the Sat. and that’s kinda stuck with me all day. Here are some of my rambling thoughts…
    I feel like we cheat ourselves out of something important by “glossing over” the Biblical history of Holy Saturday.(I believe the Anglican Church here in Canada calls it Holy Saturday)
    As stunned and awed as I am that Jesus would die a horrible death just for me the disciples must have been numbed beyond comprehension. What keeps running through my mind is Sat. should be a deep, dark, aching day of the soul…my soul…our soul…
    Somehow we lose something in the busyiness of Sat. that we never recapture on Easter Sun. I hope to learn to not only remember Good Fri. but Holy Sat. too when I celebrate on Easter Sun….
    Thanks for helping me think this all through.
    Have a great Easter Sat. and Sun

  25. 25
    Katie says:

    Such good insight for me tonight. (I had to leave our Good Friday service early tonight due to the little one blowing out his diaper. Oh the joys of motherhood.)

    My thoughts? Why is it so easy for me to see Jesus as a baby in a manger? A healer? A deliverer? A restorer? But seeing Christ as my Stand-In? My Savior? Why is that difficult for me? It’s probably because all too often I don’t recognize my NEED for Him. And oh….I need him. (Throwing a total hissy fit over the blown diaper thing proves it.)

    I’ll be pondering this post this weekend, Melissa. Thanks so much.

    Blessings,
    Kate 🙂

  26. 26
    Taylor says:

    Melissa, thank you for writing this and sharing with us. It is helping me slow down. This is the first year I have realized that God died for us. Who does that? Love. He loves us.

    All Blessings in Jesus,
    Taylor

  27. 27

    Oh yes ~ I tend to want to run headlong into Sunday, relishing the Resurrection while detouring the uncomfortable death. But I can’t. And while the crucifixion is uncomfortable, I don’t ever want to get over the wonder {the power!} of it. So I give time to the journey, too.

    And your thoughts on Holy Saturday? Simply amazing. I’m adding the book you referenced to my reading list!

    Happy Easter Melissa, and may God bless and keep you and yours.

    • 27.1
      Melissa says:

      Loved these thoughts, Kristen. Happiest Easter to you! Let me know what you think of the book. Some parts of it are harder to get through than others but well worth the read. xo

  28. 28
    Linda says:

    I have grown so much in my relationship with Christ over the past couple three years. This posting has really made me want to just stop and meditate and humble myself everyway possible on my Savior’s events leading up to His death and then His resurrection. I can’t Priase Him enough!

  29. 29
    Betty Marschner says:

    Dear Melissa,
    You are such a deep thinker but I love it when you post something. My guys were gone all day today so I was alone. I switched on TBN and watched the Passion of Christ. Now, I have seen it before and I felt Mel Gibson could have done so much more with this movie than he did but I tried to watch it though with out being so critical which is at times hard for me!!! I was sobbing at the end. It just seems so unfair that God had to go to such great lengths to redeem us. Why did sweet and loving Jesus have to go through such torture to redeem us when we do so little in return? I feel I am really sacrificing when I have to lead afew Bible studies or teach Sunday School to LD students. We think we are doing so much for Him when we give him afew moments of our day in quiet time or go to church or teach. I just do not want to ever catch myself complaining again that doing service for Him is hard when He gave so much to save me. He would not have had to. God could have left us to die in our sin. But the fact is that word again passion and love. We had a Tenebrea service in our small rural church tonite. It is a service of darkness. I go to a LCMS church and we are very steeped in litugical things so consequently we have differnt services than you have I know becuz I was brought up American Baptist! Anyway, in the service the minister reads and meditates on the last 7 words of the cross as he extinguishes the candles and at last the church is completely dark. The alter is stripped of all linens and the church is starkly bare. Usually a solo is sung like “Were You There”. A large book is slammed at the end to show the work is finished for our redemption and we all file out quietly and noone speaks to each other. It is a moving service and I left in tears. I thought again of the sacrifice Christ made. I read in my quiet time this AM how in the book of John Jesus’ high preistly prayer in that garden on that Thurs eve and how even then He prayed for us, for those who would come later and believe as a result of the work he and the deciples would do. Just think he had extreme torture in his future and he thought of us! Imagine!!! It leaves me in tears. May you and all your family and staff at LPM have a most blessed Easter. Oh, and have any of you seen that mural which is supposed to be the largest of it’s kind anywhere in the world it is in the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas? It is of Jesus leaving the tomb and outside the tomb are all the characters of the past. King David, John the Baptist, Queen Easter, Elijah and more they are kind of transparent but it is a powerful mural and it has been all over the internet today. Bless you I love you all! Betty M

  30. 30

    Thanks so much for your post, Melissa. I spent Lent this year reading through the Bible and just finished today by reading Revelation and loved the part that you referenced. I too was struck by John’s tears and the arrival of the Lamb. My feelings this year are different than in the past because of spending this concentrated time in the Word and seeing how much God loved us that He would go to such lengths. Simply amazing.

    The last couple of years Holy Saturday has become a day of reflection for me…an in-between day that I like to spend in quiet reflection on Good Friday service and in hopeful anticipation of Resurrection Day.

    Your words have given me more to ponder this year.

  31. 31
    Dawn says:

    Melissa,
    Thank you for sharing. I needed to hear this. Have a Blessed Easter! Dawn

  32. 32
    linda says:

    how wonderful to hear from you melissa… your insights are always so thought provoking and amazingly your words today hit upon what i’ve been pondering this season – why is it called “good friday.” especially when so many might recognize it as not so good… and it hit me that this day really is the basis of my faith – why jesus died on the cross for me – this horrific death… was for me! it’s so personal, yet wide spread to world – his love divine. we spurn him, turn away, reject him, crucify him and yet he continues to love us… and with his death allows us to look into the heart of god. it leaves me breathless – humbled… bold. for the first time, i messaged my family proclaiming this message inviting them to accept jesus if they haven’t already… some have, some haven’t yet. i pray they’ll be receptive to my boldness but i know it was the lord nudging me to move – all because of my pondering thoughts of what good friday really means and how it impacts me. thank you for reinforcing those thoughts – adding much to them. i relish your wisdom here. although i do wish you had more insight to the issue of the holy saturday… more pondering coming up – boo! happy easter…

  33. 33
    Warm In Alaska says:

    What is flooding my heart and mind tonight? That Jesus spends so much of Monday and Tuesday either in the Temple courts or on the Mt of Olives talking about the Kingdom – walking back and forth past the Garden where He’ll say, late Maundy Thursday night, “…not My will but Yours…”. That His best friends didn’t get that His Kingdom wasn’t about overturning the Romans.

    Tonight in our church’s Good Friday service when the account according to Mark was read aloud, my daughter leaned over and said, “Mom, one of the robbers accepted Jesus at the end.” Mark’s Gospel (like Matthew’s) has both the robbers heaping insults on Jesus. But Luke talks about one of the robbers insulting Him and the other saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” I’d never seen that before: that there wasn’t just one “bad” criminal and one “good” criminal. There was an actual conversion while that thief hung on the cross next to Jesus. That while Jesus was paying the price for my sins and all of humanity’s sins – He was deeply aware of the eternal destination of the two men on either side of Him – and that one criminal went from insulting Him to accepting Him during the time on their crosses. Also, for a dying man to ask Jesus to remember him “…when You come into Your kingdom” was some sort of faith going on. It’s something to express faith in a dying man’s kingdom – especially considering he was insulting Jesus just hours earlier.

    That’s our Jesus: ricocheting power and love and forgiveness and hope from His disfigured body (“…His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness” Isaiah 52:14).

    Love You, Jesus.
    Thank You.

  34. 34
    Kelli Cox says:

    Great post, Melissa! Thanks! I’m actually going through the Easter story day by day with my girls this weekend. Strangely, I don’t know that I’ve ever done this before and I realize how true it is that the resurrection side of the story somewhat cushions the crucifixion side. Easter was always about Sunday for me too (and Reese’s eggs) but I really want my girls to experience the tragedy of the crucifixion as much as they can for their ages. Last night we just read through the crucifixion and stopped there and my 6 year old especially was very distressed that I didn’t finish the story (even though she knows the ending). It was a great chance to talk about how the disciples must have felt etc.

  35. 35
    Leah Adams says:

    I have taken a more deliberate, albeit short, walk through Holy Week on my Facebook page. While my daily FB posts have been short, the thoughts and ponderings in my mind and heart each day have been deep. This week my heart has been more grateful for the sacrifice of Christ…more humble that He made that sacrifice for me.

  36. 36

    This Easter has brought on a new set of emotions for me. My heart has been so heavy, downright sad, as I’ve thought about Jesus’ death. Yes, indeed, Sunday is coming! But for those who experienced “this” first-hand, the devastation this day (Saturday) must have brought them! The feeling of hopelessness. Wondering was He really the One? The Messiah? I can’t imagine what Saturday must have felt like for His disciples, His own mother, His closest friends. For this entire day, their minds must have been tormented by the brutality they witnessed yesterday and the total feelings of hopelessness, perhaps even betrayal, as they watched His deceased body be carried and placed in the tomb. The sealed tomb. Sealed!!

  37. 37
    Jennifer Swift says:

    Melissa,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Amazingly enough just working around my house yesterday all that kept running through my mind was if not for today “Good Friday” there would be no need for Sunday. What you have shared has pierced my soul again to simply remind me of what a price that was paid so I could be free…

    Blessings!

  38. 38
    Vivian Ivers says:

    I think about that the thieves on the cross both in the company of Jesus. Witnessing firsthand, side-by-side, Jesus humbling himself to the will of the Father for both of them and all the world. Yet only one chose to receive Him as Savior. Can you imagine being in the midst of that chaos and having the wherewithal to recognize Jesus as the Son of God? Talk about the veil falling from your eyes!
    Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

  39. 39
    Tara G. says:

    My husband and I lead a small group here in Kyiv. We’ve been working our way through I Peter word by word and in recent weeks finished up the end of ch. 3 and started ch. 4 this past week. We all appreciated Peter making the point that our Lord physically died… and it’s wonderful and amazing to know He has triumphed in every way “to bring [us] to God.” (I Peter 3:18)

    Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to lay out what you’re learning and allowing us the opportunity to chew on it, too. Happy Easter!

  40. 40
    Barbara Head says:

    I’m sitting here reading this post and then reading through the comments, when it occurred to me to respond. Then as I opened the comments section, I began to wonder just what in the world would I have to say to such insightful thoughts. Not only your thoughts, Melissa, but all the thoughts of the respondents. I really have nothing to add except: “HE IS RISEN”. How grateful I am for those words. I am so sinful, yet HE AROSE!! I am so unworthy, yet HE AROSE!! I am full of blame, yet HE AROSE!! How abundantly full of grace and mercy is our awesome GOD that He would suffer as He did for me.

  41. 41
    Karen, Lincoln, NE says:

    I would like to make one more comment. I’m a fairly newbie Christian but have found that since I’ve met Jesus I have felt compelled to concentrate on the dirty, messy details of His sacrifice for me. Growing up in the church, I don’t remember any emphasis on these details and I was shocked beyond comprehension when, as an adult, I saw “The Passion of the Christ.” Christ’s death became a reality to me and certainly put my redemption into a new light.

    I will think about your suggestion of there being “no hope” in the world on Holy Saturday and Sister Lynn’s comment about Jesus “resting” on this day. Ironically, I’m hosting the family Easter egg hunt today for my grand babies but He will ever be on my mind.

  42. 42
    Shirley Smedley-Theiss says:

    Melissa, I agree with everything you have written. Each day needs to be remembered in depth, asking God to help us get more understanding of that particular day. Thank you for providing more insight.
    Tomorrow will be more glorious after dwelling on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
    Hallelujah, what a Savior!!

    Shirley

  43. 43
    Pam says:

    You know, I don’t think I’ve really set and thought of Saturday being anything but the day before Easter.. Makes me a little sad… Thank you for making me think …Good Friday makes my heart hurt I think maybe that is why I jump on to Sunday so fast. 🙂 Today as I prepare for Resurrection Sunday I will ponder this day more fully.I think about the women, Jesus’s Mother and the disciples and what they thought and said I wonder if they just set in silence. And so we wait…
    You know Passover started last night!!! awesome timing dont’ ya think.
    You are a fine young lady my dear… Love reading your posts
    You and your family have a wonderful Easter weekend as we ponder…..

    Love you all
    Pam, Indiana

  44. 44

    I watched The Passion of Christ last night and it helped me with the temptation and tendancy to remember my past sins. Seeing the brutality and horrific pain that Jesus went through depicted in this movie made me pause to think this thought “was this not enough? why do you still feel the guilt? I am being beaten for that. I am being nailed to a cross for that. It is accomplished”

  45. 45
    StacieHope365 says:

    It is Saturday that I am reading your post so I am thinking of what you said “Holy Saturday: an entire day when God was presumably absent from the scene and no answers were offered but a mocking, chilling silence. We’re talking here about humankind having literally no hope and no confidence of redemption secured or battles won.”

    My heart squeezes with sadness and Hope at the same time. The sadness of all that Jesus suffered because of Me and the Hope of the suffering He went through because of the Love he has for me. I guess without sorrow there would be no Hope.

    Stacie

  46. 46
    Susan says:

    WOW.

    Thank you so much for posting this powerful post, Melissa.

    Like you, I have always concentrated the majority of my thoughts on Easter Sunday, but that will no longer be the case in years to come after reading your post on Holy Saturday. You have given me so much to contemplate this day.

    Blessings and have a most wonderful Easter!
    Susan

  47. 47
    Rhonda says:

    Thank you Melissa. Going through a real drought right now spiritually. Much corruption and compromise in the church. Waiting on the Lord where he wants us to attend next. Three years ago God pulled us out of a church – it was a real GET OUT NOW. Been attending a small local church for two years, very dogmatic…once again a “get out”. So waiting. We live in W. NY. Not a Bible Belt, for sure.
    Your last paragraph about Holy Saturday was awesome. At age 54, it never occurred to me, that one day of not knowing…very, very profound. I needed so much to read that today.

    • 47.1
      Barbara says:

      Please try The Chapel at Crosspoint. Pastor Jerry is so anointed and teaches in depth. He reminds us of how freeing the Gospel is in every aspect of life. It’s been so rejuvenating after being raised in a legalistic church.

  48. 48
    Sharon Warren says:

    Beth, Ijust want to say that I have really, really put more thought into Easter this year than ever before. I was raised in a Baptist Church so we were at church every Easter. But at 60 years old, I want to really, really study the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. And I have never thought about “Silent Saturday”, what happened on Saturday. Lord, teach me more!

  49. 49
    ULCARDSFAN says:

    As a life-long member of the Methodist Church, I feel blessed to have grown up with the Liturgical Calendar.My Sunday School class just finished a study by Adam Hamilton 24 Hours That Changed the World. We were asked to study each chapter as if we did not know what happened next and to put ourselves in the place of the various “cast members” of the Holy Week experience. It was very powerful and I recommend the book and DVD series highly. On page 119, Hamilton talks about “the Second Day”, Saturday and writes..”This is the second day- the day after. It is a day we all will know. It is the day after the diagnosis of terminal cancer; the day after a spouse walks out, leaving your life, your future, your hopes, and your heart in tatters.It is the day after the lawsuit is filed against you and the day after the verdict. It is the day after 9/11, the day the news is still sinking in and you realize your life will change forever. It is the day when the world seems so dark that hope is nowhere to be found.” Thank you Jesus that Saturday was NOT the end.

  50. 50
    Barbara says:

    Easter weekend always makes me feel humbled and overwhelmed that Jesus went through all of it for me, for each one of us. And it pains me when I think of my sin, the stupid little sins, to the huge things I’ve done, put Him on that cross. And to know He was thinking of me while hanging there in physical pain and the emotional pain of having His relationship severed with the Father for the first time ever – again, it’s overwhelming. I’ve never really thought about Saturday. That Jesus was really dead. It’s too easy to think ahead to Easter morning. That is really going to take some thought now. All I can think is Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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