Friday, April 6, 2012

Grave Clothes

Have you looked for the Lord tonight?

You will find Him in the grave.

It's easy to lose yourself in Easter week. Somewhere between the bunnies and the chocolate and the shifting dates on the calendar, you look up and it's Easter and you wonder where you've been. Because you realize that a man, a Lord, is walking out the grave and you're just like whoa! Already?

A handful of us will take some time this Good Friday to think of the crucifixion. To think of our Lord hanging on the cross, the life slowly draining out of Him. Drips of blood, the sacrifice of the Lamb with no defects, an aroma pleasing to God. A sin offering. A guilt offering. A burnt offering. A reconciliation. We can put ourselves there. See Him hanging on that cross. See the thorns around His head. His tattered clothes. His nail-piereced hands. It's a vivid image. And as many of us say, it's Friday.

But Sunday's a-comin'.

What about Saturday? And what about Friday night?

I think we miss a powerful moment when we forget to look in the grave. When we forget to see Him lying there, wrapped in grave clothes, prepared for death. Anointed by a sinful woman. Beaten. Open wounds that would not have had time to heal, but would lay festering in the darkness in a body unable to heal itself. No longer bleeding. No longer bloody. But open wounds nonetheless. Decomposition setting in. Odor starting to emanate.

I used to wonder what Jesus did in there for three days. But it's fairly obvious.

He laid there. Trapped in the flesh. Rotting. Dead.

Were we to roll back the stone on a Friday night, we would see love in a new way. And we would see Easter in a new way. Walking into that darkness, the memory of light fading in our eyelids, hands along the wall guiding us toward a man or a mummy or some mixture of the both, our hearts know. If we're lucky, they remember, but for most of us, they know - this is familiar darkness.

We have been there. Trapped in our flesh. Rotting away. Wrapped in clothes that don't seem to be ours. Unable to heal ourselves. No longer bleeding, though our wounds are open.

To walk into that grave and feel your way there, to kneel at the resting place of Jesus in the midst of tremendous darkness, watching His body as you know your body has been, feeling the heaviness of the gain a new appreciation for His sacrfice. For His love.

We're told, and we're taught, that Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully man. He understood our trials and temptations; He knew our agony. There's not a whole lot of that in the pages of the Gospels between the feeding of the four thousand, the feeding of the five thousand, the feasting, the adoration. We don't see Jesus saying, "You know, I'm really struggling with ___ today." But we get a little of it in His journey to the cross. We get it in the betrayal. In the persecution. In the accusation. In the condemnation. In the beating, the abuse, the bruises, the blood. We get some of it in the nails and the mockery and the gawking. In the cross, we get some of that.

In the grave, we get more. In the grave, we finally see Him in our darkness, in our flesh, bound by the world. Victimized. Brutalized. Hopeless. Dead. When we look for Him in the grave, we find Him there - and we get it. He gets us. We know that darkness; He does, too. He was there for three. long. days.

His body pierced, the earth went dark. The thunder rolled. The rocks shattered. The curtains tore. And then, there was death.

Doesn't that just speak love to you? Doesn't that speak mercy? Doesn't that speak sacrifice?

Have you met Jesus in the grave? If not, take some time this weekend to roll away the stone and find Him in the darkness. He is there; He gets it. May you walk out together with a tenderness for death, the gentleness to deal with the brokenness that binds us in darkness, and the joy of new life, new light, and an upper room...a sanctuary...a promise.

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