Surreal Reality

This week in preparation for recording an Easter sermon one of my confidants relayed how it has been difficult to engage in the usual experiences of Holy Week. For Christians it is the time in the church calendar that commemorates the pivotal events of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Typically there is pause, the slow, thoughtful end of a Lenten season of surrender. But sheltering-at-home has robbed us of routines, of seasonal recognition and the unfolding of what we have believed to be spiritual intention.

2020 has instead given us a new way of aching for something better. Many of us grieve loved-ones and strangers felled by COVID-19. Many of us face the fear of financial uncertainty. Many us are burdened by an avalanche of information and can’t figure out who to listen to. We hope for true leadership in the crisis. We wrestle with our usual misplaced hopes and fears on steroids.

It is a surreal reality. Bizarre. Can this all be happening?

And that is it. Can this be happening?

That is the sense we are meant to have during Holy Week. A numb questioning if it is even real. The surprise of it.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was welcomed as a king, set to solve what the crowds assumed was their trouble. Yet his purpose was larger than political boundaries and tribalism. His purpose was global and spiritual in nature. When he was arrested and tried, those who knew him to have the words of life were stricken with fear, things were not unfolding according to their script but to Scripture.

There on the cross as Jesus died, as the sky was dark and the earth shook, those with hope found it dim and were left searching. A surreal reality.

But the work being done was forgiveness. For all who dishonored the holiness of God, a sacrifice was made. What was surreal was truer than anything that had come before.

As the breath left his lips and exclaimed “it is finished” it really was. Absolution. Freedom.

Those watching still couldn’t believe it. We have a hard time believing it now. But the waiting, the unknown, the uncertainty would be resolved. The Savior who was killed on the cross would walk out of his grave.

This was living hope then. This is living hope now. Jesus.

Our experience will still be surreal. But resolution is coming. Whether we live or die we live with Him. On this Good Friday, trust in Jesus. In his finished work on the cross to present you as blameless before our Creator God.

Rest in his reality. Breathe in his peace.


Worthwhile: April 19, 2019

This is an important weekend. Today is Good Friday, commemorating the Cross of Christ and Sunday is Easter marking his resurrection. Don’t be tempted by the candy and Spring decoration, dive into the significance of a Savior that would die for you and defeat death in his resurrection.

We start with why we call today Good, then on to sticking with what we are meant for in the Church, and a big finish with a nap.

David Mathis wrote a piece a couple of years ago for Desiring God about the goodness of this Friday. How we can call the worst day of history Good.

God was at work, doing his greatest good in our most horrible evil. Over and in and beneath the spiraling evil of Judas, the Jewish leaders, Pilate, the people, and all forgiven sinners, God’s hand is steady, never to blame for evil, ever working it for our final good. As Peter would soon preach, Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”

Read for yourself and be reminded.

Next up is Trevin Wax’s talk from the Gospel Coalition conference this year. In it Wax invites us back to Orthodoxy. Where there is temptation toward other things, the main thing is the best thing. It is thrilling even.

We live in an age that resists authority, dogma, and institutions. Those who challenge historic doctrines and practices are seen as heroic and courageous, as if there is something inherently attractive and exciting in being heterodox. To defend the faith, we must not merely rely on rational arguments in favor of orthodoxy but also display the beauty and power of Christian truth in a way that makes the appeal of heresy pale in comparison.

And finally, take a nap. It’s science. Napping is good for you and will make you more productive and an all around nicer person. So plan for it, add a nap to your routine and see the benefits!


The Full Weight of Us

Today is Good. That is what we call it. Not because in some places we get the day off. Or because it represents the last Friday you can’t eat meat…(what is that about anyway!) And not because it is the first Friday of Spring this year. It is the day we reflect on the death of Jesus Christ. For some a historical figure. For some, Savior.

For those of us who claim him as Savior, this day is good because it was the burden we carried that was shouldered by Jesus before a council of the religious and a judgment of the oppressors. His death sentence was something we earned for sin and corruption since that early day in the garden when our first parents chose disobedience and since the earliest days of our own lives when we lived out our inherited sinfulness.

And upon that cross it all was lifted. He who knew no sin became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus hung on the cross with the full weight of us bearing down on him. The pain. The mocking. And the abandonment he experience from the Father who had turned away his face from the One who had become sin for us. An eternal relationship, severed.

I see the weight of all of that every day I look in the mirror. Every moment when I view my need and sinfulness rightly. The filth of my condemnation before Christ. We can take it for granted, what forgiveness costed. But it is days like this one that we call good when we can reflect anew on the self-seeking wretchedness of me and you that Jesus willingly took on to solve the problem of sin and reconcile a people to himself.

Darkness fell that day. All of creation witnessed to the separation taking place. How could there be light at a time like this. Heavy. Painful. Effective. Then the declaration with a loud, death-shattering voice, “It is finished!”

And it was. For you. Once for all. Jesus’ life for yours. His blood for your covering. His record for your righteousness.

This is what is good. Live in this goodness today.