Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Messy Love of Easter - Guest Post



   The wonderful Belle from Seeing Everything Else agreed to do a guest post for this Easter. After reading, be sure to check out her blog here, for which she consistently posts encouraging and convicting articles. 


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Horrifying. Scandalous. These aren't the words we usually associate with Easter.


Our normal thoughts fall more along the lines of pastel flowers, cute chicks and bunnies, and Precious Moments kids kneeling gently beneath a brown ceramic cross.


And those are sweet. Those are cute. Those are clean. But they're wrong.


Because Easter, the whole of this great story, isn't cute. It isn't clean. There are no pastels; no, it's stained in vivid hues of crimson and black and wretchedness and anger and violent love. Because Easter is nothing without the cross.


But so often we're tempted to check out. We know the story, or at least, we've heard it many times. But we forget. We forget how shocking it is. How dreadful. Our sin is a horrifying, messy thing, and to think that the answer to it would be cute and clean and easy -- It couldn't be. We violently removed ourselves and were swept away from God and life and light; and only a violent love, willing to do and endure all for us, could win us back.


So lay aside your prior knowledge, your prior suppositions for a moment. Read back through all the accounts (Mat. 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21); it'll probably take about half an hour. Blow away the dust of familiarity, and read this as a story. (The Greatest One which ever was.)


As you read, can't you feel the tension, the dread, the rising anger at this injustice?


One of His closest friends comes, solely to betray Him. Peter pulls out his sword, he'll fight back and save Him! But he's rebuked, and the disciples scatter in terror. Later in that supposed-justice-hall, witness after witness rises up with eyes burning, spewing hate; but none of them agree, perhaps they won't -- but cries of "Blasphemy!" "What more do we need?" ring out. Pilate is wary of their charges, wants his sleep, warned by his wife, wonders at His silence; perhaps he'll just laugh at the Jews and send them all home -- then he shifts responsibility to Herod. Oh, Herod has wanted to hear Him, to see miracles! He sends Him back. Pilate is still unwilling, there still are special traditions, surely the people singing Hosannas a few days before will now cry for His release? -- Give us Barabbas, the murderer.  How terrible, how wrong, how gut-wrenching is this! And we haven't even gotten to the whipping, to the torment; we're not even yet to Golgotha.


We desired a murderer and thief, rather than Him. We desired our own name and prestige and comfy place in the empire, rather than Him. We desired our own rules and regulations and self-righteousness, rather than Him. Everyway and everywhere, rebellion and darkness. The Life itself, facing death on a tree.


Do you see that cross? Have you looked at it? It's not cute, it's not sweet, it's not clean. It's awful, horrible, terrifying. Splintered and broken just like we are, red with bloody pulp from the raw mess of sin, and fastened inescapably and immovably, with every movement and cry digging itself deeper in.


Look at it, shield your eyes, fall on your knees; not for some nice prayer, but from revulsion, for up there is you and me.


Or, it should be.


But it's not.


Because up there on that terrible tree is the Hero of the Story. He who didn't deserve it, He who did nothing -- nothing wrong! He's the one fastened there. He's the one screaming in agony. He's the one with His own blood blinding His eyes. He's the one there, struggling for every breath. He's the one crushed and overwhelmed by every sin that ever has and ever will be committed. The weight of all the injustices, all the horrors, and all the atrocities, poured and pummeled upon Him.


Why? -- this isn't right! This injustice, this horror, how, why would such a thing be?


For God


So loved


The world


So loved. Messy, verbalized love, that was the Word being clothed in flesh. Messy, violent love, that went to all lengths, even the giving of His life, to get us back. Messy, victorious love, that destroyed even death.


Horrifying and beautiful, scandalous and merciful. Not words which go together. But somehow, in that hinge of all history, they combined. The cross is messy. But it makes us clean.


So wake up this Easter to cleanness, to wholeness, to life. Not all cutesy or pastel; but real, solid, vivid life painted with purple and white and gold and royalty and saints and redemption. Because we are nothing without Christ. But, now, through the cross, through the empty tomb, Jesus has given us life, and that more abundantly. (John 10:10)


Fall on your knees and worship Him for His wondrous, powerful, messy love.


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.


For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.


Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.


(Isaiah 53:3-5, Romans 5:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24)






12 comments:

  1. Woahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
    PREACH GIRL!
    My soul weeps and celebrates with you- may we never forget the amazing work on the cross.
    <3 <3 <3
    elissa // letters-to-jayna.blogspot.com

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  2. I. Love. This.
    I sat in church yesterday morning thinking this exact same thing, only I couldn't put it into words. I've never heard Easter described like this, and it's breathtaking.
    "Horrifying and beautiful, scandalous and merciful. Not words which go together. But somehow, in that hinge of all history, they combined. The cross is messy. But it makes us clean."
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you so very much for reading and for your kind words!

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  3. This is really good! Very well-written!

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  4. A giant thank you to Gloria for the privilege of being able to dwell on the magnitude of our Lord's sacrifice (and also for the much-needed-push to just sit down and write)! You always encourage others so very well, and it has been an absolute honor for me to join you for a moment in your lovely work. Keep on using your many talents to glorify Him, and thank you, for everything.

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    1. Aw, thanks so much Belle! You're too sweet. :) Thank you for being willing to do this on such short notice! Your blog posts are always so faith-building. Don't be weary in well-doing girlie!

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    2. Hi Belle - you don't know me but I have been following your blog for some time now. Your writings have blessed me - thank you.
      And this one particularly - it's as if you were taking us with you to see the awful beautifulness of the cross. And it touched me - thank you.

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    3. Hey Anna! Thank you so immensely much for your kind words, you have no idea what they mean to me! But truly though, the credit isn't mine -- it's His. My words are nothing but fruitless words on a screen unless the Spirit in me empowers me and the Spirit in you uses them to speak to your heart. In both instances, the praise is Jesus' alone. Keep on following Him!

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  5. This is such a good reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross! Thank you for sharing, Belle! I love the vivid imagery and descriptions you use! Jesus' death truly wasn't clean or rosy. Isn't it interesting how an instrument of torture become a symbol of victory?

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