Daily Remembering What REALLY Held Him There

April 7, 2010 | 23 comments

We hauled the wicker baskets and the pastel-colored grass and the plastic eggs to the basement storage room. This is the cool tomb where all Easter decorations go until they are resurrected the following year.

“Mommy,” she said, rescuing the last of the Easter decorations from the box. “We should keep this one out all year long.”

She held the spike.

Her little sister asked, could she hold it, too?

And my youngest pressed the spike into her own hand, indenting little-girl flesh. And they both grimaced at the thought of a seven-inch tapered spike piercing through the flesh and the nerves and the muscle and the carpal tunnel of their Friend’s wrists.

Lydia often ends her night prayers this way: “Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for us. That would have really hurt.”

Yes, of course, we celebrate the empty tomb, and the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit come alive in us as believers. But we celebrate, too, the gory mess, and the pain of the wonderful, beautiful, scandalous cross.

***

I used to scoff at the altars in the Catholic churches, from behind which a crucified statue of Jesus still hung on the cross.

The cross ought to be empty, I’d say, because Jesus rose from a grave. He’s not on that cross anymore.

But, now, I wonder if my scoffing was rooted in the offensive idea of the blood, and the gore, and — especially — my own sin that pinned the Savior to a tree.

I did not want to gaze upon a cross and a man hanging in pain while paying the debt I couldn’t pay.

I wonder, today, if we need a little bit more Good Friday in all our days. Not that we ought to crucify ourselves — or each other — over and over again. Jesus died once and for all, and yes He overcame the grave, crushing the enemy forevermore.

But when we gaze upon a cross, it sweetens the victory found in an empty tomb. And it insulates us from watering down the Good News into some sort of prosperity gospel that tells believers that a life in Christ leads to happiness and success. Because God didn’t promise easy lives. He calls us to the pain of sacrifice that demands something of us. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.

So today, on the heels of a celebrated Resurrection, we stand firmly in the promise of an empty tomb. But we also keep our gaze on the hill from which a red-stained sacrifice flows fresh.

We’ll keep the spike on the kitchen table, and we’ll remember with new gratitude that he bore the pain and endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

Even today, Jesus wears his scars — a daily, visible reminder of spikes driven through flesh. We remember daily, too, with our own visible reminder: a spike on the table.

Jesus, Keep me near the cross. Lead me up that hill daily, so I never forget this: Your grace is free, but it was not cheap. Just writing those words … I stop here at these computer keys, and I shake my head and feel that familiar lump of gratitude in my throat. Let me never cheapen what You did for me. In Your incomparable name, the Name above all other names … Amen.

Photo one: Lydia holding our spike.

Photo two: A nail on a fence near Monument, Colorado. This stunning photo was taken by Deb DesMarteau, my husband’s aunt. She sent the photo last week via email and said that if God prompted, I could use it here. Dear Deb, this seemed the perfect day. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp as we explore spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of Jesus. This week, we consider: Cultivating the Life God Desires. Ann’s post today is knee-buckling beautiful. You may find it by clicking here.

by | April 7, 2010 | 23 comments

23 Comments

  1. lynnrush

    Fantastic post. Such a great reminder. Thank you.

    Have a great day!

    Reply
  2. Chrissy

    This is beautiful, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. jasonS

    We definitely need to live our lives in light of the sacrifice. It gives everything meaning, everything perspective, everything grace…

    Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Andrea

    Beautiful!
    Thank you!!
    andrea

    Reply
  5. A Simple Country Girl

    our little ones are so close to God's heart… we keep our nativity our year-round because of that closeness

    Reply
  6. Duane Scott

    I just wanted to stop in and say that I am now following your blog again. I used to be, but due to some privacy issues, had to go incognito. I look forward to reading your post again, and hope you follow me back to my new site. Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Missy

    What a wonderful post. It is so easy to balk at seeing the blood and gore, but it is truth. And without it, there would be no glorious light shining in an empty tomb.

    Reply
  8. PW

    Amen!!!

    p.s. I'm back in the blogging world.

    Reply
  9. Karen

    Amen…daily reminders…I love this…bless your little girl's heart…she KNOWS what is important….

    Reply
  10. Graceful

    Yes, keeping a bit of Good Friday in all our days. Yes. That really hit home with me tonight.

    Oh, and I loved your post over at Internet Devotions — I didn't have time to post a comment…but I read your words!

    How is that running coming along?????

    Reply
  11. Lyla Lindquist

    And so, not only is every morning Easter morning, but every day is Good Friday too…is there another verse for that one? 🙂

    Reply
  12. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    "That would have really hurt"…
    Yes — really love always does really hurt.

    As always… thank you, Jennifer.
    How I thank you.

    All's grace,
    and so unspeakably grateful for you….
    Ann

    Reply
  13. Billy Coffey

    I'll confess I've secretly wanted to say this many times but held my tongue. Yes, Easter is a joyous time. Maybe the most joyous. But the pain He felt that day should never be far from our minds.

    Loved this, Jennifer.

    Reply
  14. Kristine

    You have some very spiritually astute children my friend. A beautiful post Jennifer.

    Reply
  15. James Oh

    Great posts. Well done, Jennifer.

    God bless you and your family always,

    Reply
  16. David

    We all remember the cross…but you ask me to remember the spike.

    That's the point of the pain…the very inject into His flesh for me.

    David@RedLetterBelievers

    Reply
  17. Anne Lang Bundy

    I have two thoughts, on the empty cross, and the cross with a bloody body.

    I heard an anecdote about some boy scouts on tour going into a Catholic chapel. One gazed up at the immense crucifix and said, "Whoa! What happened to that dude?" Evidently, the visual image of a crucified Savior is still one worthy of its impact.

    My own thoughts when I see an empty cross is that it is there for me. Jesus has been taken from it, and it is now my turn to take it up.

    Reply
  18. Jennifer

    Understanding the blood, the sacrifice DOES make the victory that much sweeter–such an awesome point. It's uncomfortable. It makes me cry. But the blood impresses on me just how much Christ did in dying for my sin.

    Reply
  19. Doug Spurling

    Galatians 2:20
    I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
    Thank you

    Reply
  20. Laura

    Oh, Jennifer. Yes. We need to remember. It's hard. I want to look away. But how can we move past the cross to the resurrection if we don't look at the cost?

    your girls just amaze me. deep thinkers, those.

    Bless you, friend.

    Reply
  21. Missie

    we should have that memory because it is so easy to forget. thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  22. Anne Lang Bundy

    Jennifer, I came back to look at this again, for the third time now. And I echo your prayer that I never think upon the cross without the pang in my heart for what held my precious Savior there.

    Reply
  23. by SuAnn

    Hi Jennifer, I don't know how I came upon your blog..I was thinking about how a Christian can celebrate Passover. I really enjoyed all you said and the photos and teaching on this. I also think how wonderful that you are teaching your children as you are. Keep up the good work in Christ and i hope to view more of your blog in the future. Suzanne

    Reply

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