We dont usually see empty as a good thing, but when the tomb became just an empty hole it was the most joyous day in all of Heaven and earth. When we think empty we usually think void, lacking.
The grave was void, it was void of death. It was lacking, lacking the power to hold Christ and keep Him from rising. It was empty, empty of the sorrow that death brings. It was also full. That big space of nothing was filled to the brim with hope, love, new life and the glittering remnants of the glory of God.They say that love begins at 0. Does that 0 not look like a big empty hole to you? It does to me. Love began before the cross, on the cross and in the empty tomb. Love began in a manger in a little town called Bethlehem. Love is 0, love is a big, wondrous, EMPTY tomb. Because Jesus is no longer on the cross, no longer in the grave, today He rose, soon He is coming back again.
Enter Jerusalem, the city streets are filled with celebrating and cheering as a humble and gentle donkey colt strides down the streets.
Palms are laid at the sweet animal’s feet and a sense of pride wells in the donkey’s heart. He is carrying Jesus, as all animals know Jesus is the king of kings, God’s one and only Son; but the donkey senses sonething, a feeling of pain in the heart of his Lord. The donkey is confused and turns his head to nuzzle the King’s foot, a gentle hand strokes the animal’s neck in response. The donkey stretches hard to see Jesus’ face. The beaming smile is a shock to the donkey because it can sense the sadness within the savior’s heart. All the gentle colt can do is continue to carry his Lord.
The animal saw both joy and sorrow and could not understand, but the joy was love for the King’s people, and the sorrow was knowledge that these people were only a breath away from condemning their King to die; but one small donkey showed his love and carried the weight of the savior as the savior carried the weight of the world.
Jesus was recorded as having great anguish as He neared Jerusalem. Anguish that simple human senses could barely begin to understand. To suffer is one thing, but to know you are about to suffer is another. If we saw the suffering that would come in our lives we as people could not handle it. Jesus knew every bit of His suffering to come and that caused Him greater pain than He would have experienced if it had all been a shock or surprise. Days of waiting are too much to bear, but He bore them for us. The false love of the people must have stung and the lies of Judas must have made His heart sick, but He suffered them all because He loves us. Oh what a love that is, who else could give such love? Who else would? Only Jesus loves us so much.
Credit to owner for image
When a dramatic, violent death occurs in Anime there is often a painful scene where blood splashes across the protagonists face; it is almost if not absolutely symbolic of the horror, the suffering that is happening. The blood could go anywhere but it hits the face. Why? Because your face is your identity, and now the identity is marred with death.
We seem to avoid the blood of the cross. Oh we sing about it and we read the passage about it, but we like to skip ahead and get to the resurrection. The bright, clean, pure resurrection. We act as if that is the most important part of the story. I can’t help but wonder if it is the crown of thorns, the lashing, the pain, sorrow, blood and tears that are the most important parts.
We drink the blood at communion but that sweet juice does not reflect the warm, thick, salty tang of real blood. If you feel sick I don’t blame you, that is how you would feel if you drank blood.
The cross was not pretty, not clean, not all put together. It was messy, dirty, smelly and horror to the first degree.
Many were crucified but only one was whipped until nearly dead, forced to carry a cross, nailed to that cross and filled with the disgust of the worlds sins.
Even though three days later He rose, we must never forget the crown of thorns which He chose to wear and the wooden throne which read ‘king of the Jews’.
Credit to owner for image
The flowers in the photo above are called crown of thorns. Which I felt applied well to this weekend.
Crosses were used for executions often during the days of Jesus. Few deaths held as much fear as those planks of wood; it was slow and painful and humiliating, absolute suffering. I imagine being there, among the observers. Standing before the cross, staring up at the dirt and blood coated feet of the man hanging there, my stomach turned with sickness. The scent of sweat and death lingering in the air always and the spot never clear of it. Birds hungry from days in the desert circle above, chattering to one another, or to the people below, no one can tell. Agonizing moans and cries emanate from the accused and their loved ones, mixed with taunts and mockery from those who had nothing better to do than to watch. One man stands out among the other two, His pain seems deeper and His situation more controlled. He wears a crown marking Him a king, His sign reads, “hail, king of the Jews” but what king would hang on a cross? Blood pools beneath Him and His sorrow I can begin to feel. Then He looks at me and I am amazed by what I see. Eyes so filled with pain and sorrow are smiling with love. His being there feels like it holds a great purpose and suddenly the sky grows dark. The birds have scattered in fear and a great crack is heard from somewhere within the village. Looking back to the man I see with a broken heart that He is gone. Until a warm hand slips into mine and I look to see Him standing next to me smiling down with that same love I saw before. He leans over and whispers in my ear,
“You are worth this sacrifice.”
We are worth the sacrifice of suffering and death to the one who gave it all for us. Jesus gave up His kingdom, gave up His dignity, gave up what we would refer to as His pride; He gave up His blood, gave up His flesh and gave up His life, because He deemed us worthy. We are not worthy on our own, but because Jesus decided we are worthy that makes us worthy. He sacrificed because He loves us. He took the keys from the devil, unlocked the gates of hell and set the captives free because suddenly their sins were paid for and forgiven. He rose from the grave as an unmatched sign that He is king and He has conquered death. It may sound crazy, a battle between good and evil where one supreme power controls it all, but the crazy thing is it’s real, it’s happening and we are a part of it. When Jesus comes back I want to be found sitting at the foot of the cross. Where do you want to be found?