It’s Spring break in my house. Although my sons were a bit disappointed that we weren’t going anywhere this time, they’re happy enough we allowed them to play with their video games as much as they want, provided they take short breaks in between. I hate to admit it, but this works to give me quiet hours to get household chores done, and when they come up for air, I’m ready to give them my full attention.
It’s also the Tuesday of the Christian Holy Week. The countdown to Easter Sunday is on, and I’m working my way through Mark’s gospel, aiming to get to the last chapter (the Resurrection) by Saturday night. And unlike the years before, I’m not rushing to the grocery store to buy plastic eggs and candies. There’s a different tone altogether, and one that’s very uncomfortable.
A medley of old hits by Sandi Patty and Steve Green played in the background as I worked this morning. Via Dolorosa and Broken and Spilled Out are simply two of the songs that brought the meaning of this week home for me even as I attended to the more mundane tasks of homemaking before me. And as I worked, I started to reflect on the Cross. And something hit me all of a sudden. It was as much a confession as it was a realization, reinforced by a tweet I saw:
“The worst case scenario is that this week didn’t happen.” – Bob Goff
I used to go on and on about how I wished He didn’t have to die, how I was sorry about every stripe and cut. I would focus on the blows His body received and cry over them. It would be very emotional for me, and I always felt so righteous after.
It took years before I saw how empty those emotions were, much like the tears I would shed over an emotional part in any story I was reading or watching. It was proof of how I didn’t understand what the Cross was all about. This realization was a game changer.
Jesus bore the Cross because there was no other choice. In wishing He didn’t have to, I was adding to His sorrow in the garden. I see now, the cross requires only two appropriate reactions: gratitude and repentance.
Gratitude, that comes from the quiet acceptance that the way of the cross was the only way, and He knew that and chose to take that route for me. And you. Gratitude, that leads to hope and joy.
Repentance, that stems from the deep understanding of the love that brought Him to Calvary, and what Easter morning really means. I hear the clink and clang of chains breaking and falling to the ground each time I think of the empty grave. Rising above this din are the shouts of celebration from prisoners long held in the bleakest of prisons.
Gratitude and Repentance. It’s for Easter Sunday, and any day I draw breath on this earth. And beyond.