STRESSED?

Yeah, me too.

For those of you who missed the memo, it’s Holy Week. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ve been feeling anything but holy. The last few days, I’ve been under a lot of stress from in a lot of different areas of my life. Sadly, it not only leaves me frustrated, exhausted, and irritable, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like, oh, I don’t know, actually stopping to breathe?? Let alone prayer, meditation, Scripture. Or sleep, for that matter.

Once school let out, that helped. But it’s been a rough week, and things aren’t looking to let up anytime soon. I have a long list of things that worry me, of pressures I stagger under, of expectations I struggle to meet, of demands that gobble up my time, energy, and willpower. So much so that it wasn’t until Friday that I suddenly realized: this was the day that Jesus died.

This was the day that Jesus died.

What do you say to that? How do you respond? It’s so ironic that we call it “Good Friday,” when for anyone around when it happened, this was defeat.

The cross was not a symbol of hope, of victory, or of faith. The cross was a brutal instrument of torturous execution, and for anyone who believed in Jesus, it was a sign of hopelessness, of defeat, and of loss. It meant that the man who they thought would be the One had died, and they had lost everything.

They had given everything to follow Jesus. They had left their homes, their families, their livelihoods, their reputations, their possessions far behind. And now he was dead.

And no one would be surprised if they were next.

And think of Jesus. How false the cheers of the crowd must have felt on Palm Sunday, when he knew that the same ones would be calling for his crucifixion just a few days later. Even at the Last Supper, his disciples still didn’t get it. What it must have taken to wash Judas’ feet and hours later receive his condemning kiss. His cries to God in the garden, under so much pressure that he was sweating blood.

How long it took. Trial after trial, flogging after flogging, the mocking cries echoing in his ears before finally, they put him on the cross, and he hung for hours, slowly asphyxiating.

And it was finished. Finally, it was finished.

And death had won. Satan had won. The Son of God was dead.

What if that were the end of the story?

Thank God it wasn’t.

The ground began to shake, the stone was rolled away–his perfect love could not be overcome! Now death, where is your sting?? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!

Nothing makes Easter matter more than wondering what if it hadn’t happened. The resurrection was bold, defiant, and triumphant. Christ has overcome! We have overcome! In the moment when all seemed lost–out of that came the whole point.

The resurrection is not a moment of “yay, Jesus is alive, clap-clap-clap, let’s go eat chocolate eggs!” No, the resurrection is a moment of power, when God showed once and for all who is in control. It’s a moment of defiance, of the powers of darkness that hold this world captive. The resurrection is not an event by itself–it’s powerful because Jesus. Was. Dead. Death is final. But…he is alive! Unstoppable, unfathomable, unbeatable love, standing tall in a white fire.

It’s humbling. And it’s awe-inspiring. It’s insane, really, that he should love me that much. I know I sure don’t deserve it, not me.

The disciples didn’t know he would rise again. Now he’s left us–but again, it is not forever. He’s coming back. Do you believe it?

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