Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

It is tempting to forget that there were three long days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection beause the way we observe this season rushes us past the pain to embrace the promise.

But it’s not hard for me to imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus was dead.  It was neither what they expected nor what they prayed for.

There were many points in the story when things could have gone a different way:

  • When taken by the religious leaders-surely, they thought, He will explain Himself, they will let Him go.
  • When taken before Pilate-Rome will refuse to get involved with our spiritual squabbles, Pilate won’t authorize His death.
  • When presented to the crowd-no Jew would rather have a wicked murderer released instead of a humble, healing Rabbi.

At every turn, every expectation they had for a “happy ending” was dashed to the ground.

But here they were:  Jesus was dead.  His body was taken hurriedly to a tomb.  And they were hiding, praying-fearful they might be next.

There is a popular church saying:  “It’s Friday….but Sunday’s coming!”

Meant to be comforting and encouraging, it can also be confusing and condemning.

Because there are many people who will live their lives on this earth between Friday and Sunday.  They will live out their years, wondering just what Jesus is doing, why He didn’t act in ways they expected and exactly when they will receive the fullness of His promises for abundant life.

Here I am: my son is dead.  It is certainly not what I expected.  It’s not how I thought God would honor my prayers of safety and long life for my children.

Yes, I live on the other side of the Resurrection-I know the end of the disciples’ vigil-I am convinced of the empty tomb, the ascended Lord and my Great High Priest’s intercession at the right hand of the Father.

But what I long for I cannot hold.  What I hope for I cannot touch.  What I know to be true I cannot see.

I live in the space between “it looks like everything has gone horribly wrong” and “Hallelujah!”.

It is painful.  It is hard.  And it will last for a lifetime, not just a few days.

I am thankful for the resurrection, and I live each day longing for Christ’s return.  But my heart hurts in the meantime, my arms ache to hold the child I love.

So be patient with me if I  cry harder when singing the hymns of heaven.  And be gentle when reminding me of my hope in Christ.

I am living between pain and promise and waiting desperately for Sunday.

There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—and the very last enemy is death! As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!

I Corinthians 15:25-27 MSG

Perspective

For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!  So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 AMP

Grieving a child is not light nor is it momentary.  It is a heavy weight that threatens to drag me into despair.

I feel like I’m struggling to walk up a mighty mountain with few footholds and steep cliffs. Sometimes I just want to give up.

What was Paul thinking????

“Light and momentary distress”–this from a man who had been left for dead, imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked and abandoned by his friends?

But Paul was a master of rhetoric and used words to invite his readers to thoughtfully consider the things he said.  You can’t read one of his letters like a paperback novel–you have to slow down, read carefully and think hard.

Paul depended on people’s experience that distress is in fact often heavy and lifelong to show, by contrast, how excellent and marvelous and exceedingly valuable our eternal inheritance is through Christ.

 If the awful burdens of this life seem light and momentary when we enter the fullness of God’s promises in heaven, then how very great those promises must be!

Only the grace of a mighty God can give me the strength to face each day with hope and the faith to believe that the things I see are not the things that truly last.

And only the faithful love of a Heavenly Father can give me the assurance that one day I will barely remember how hard it was to walk carrying this load.