There are piles of laundry to be washed and folded, and sticky spots are scattered upon the kitchen floor. The baby tugs at me as the older two call my name from another room. I’m juggling dinner preparations and stepping over discarded crayons. This life as mom is all-consuming. The needs can seem overwhelming, the tasks countless, the work relentless. And the pressure to do it all, to be everything to everyone can be a heavy weight indeed.
There is so much doing, being, striving. And the result of it all can often be deferred hope, intangible peace, elusive rest. It feels that way for me sometimes. Maybe it feels that way for you now. It certainly felt that way for a ragamuffin group of first-century people following a man named Jesus.
Because they believed He was the Messiah. They trusted Him to bring rest, rescue, redemption. He rode into Jerusalem and the people shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9)
They laid their cloaks on the ground in a spontaneous processional as their future king entered the city. He who would be their promised Messiah.
But then Friday … Jesus is seized from the Garden of Gethsemane, given an unfair trial and condemned to death by crucifixion. Peter, the one Jesus named “the rock”, betrays his Savior not once, not twice, but three times. The rooster crows.
Jesus is mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross and hung between two thieves atop a hill known as the skull. At noon, darkness shrouds the land, and three hours later, Jesus cries out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?.” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ) (Matthew 27:46).
He gives up his spirit. The earth shakes. The curtain rips in two. Hearts are shattered. Death seems victorious. And the hope of rescue and redemption hangs nailed to a Roman cross.
Joseph of Arimathea wraps Jesus in linen and places him in a tomb cut from a cave. A large rock is rolled in front of the entrance; Roman soldiers seal the tomb and post a guard.
Terrified, Jesus’ followers scatter. They don’t know what’s coming.
The sun sets, day two dawns, then day three. Women walk to the tomb with spices in hand. They have heavy, despaired hearts and a task to do. Sadness has eclipsed worship; despair has conquered hope; death appears to have triumphed over life.
But then an earthquake shakes the ground beneath their feet and an angel appears with a message so ripe with the promise of redemption that it’s nearly unbelievable: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6 NIV)
And suddenly these women who were on their way to Jesus’ tomb to perform a grave task find their work miraculously intercepted by unfathomable grace.
As they rush back to tell the other disciples, they meet the resurrected Christ, fall to their feet and worship him (Matthew 28:8-9). Because that’s what an encounter with the resurrected Jesus does. It replaces work with worship. There’s no more doing, no more being, no more striving, there is simply fall-on-your-face worship.
For tired mamas, for exhausted parents, for everyone … the cross gives us the undeserved gift of grace and asks nothing in return. Strivings cease and redemption bursts forth in its place. There is no working for salvation, no trying hard to earn it, no striving for eternity. There is instead the simple act of receiving the gift of grace and worship that arises from the depths of a grateful, rescued heart.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So this Sunday, when there is church to visit, children to tend, dinner to prepare, eggs to hide, remember that the thing that matters most has already been accomplished. The lamb was crucified, blood was spent, God’s wrath is satisfied, the law is justified.
Death couldn’t keep him, and the grave couldn’t hold him. It is finished! He has risen, He lives, and there is nothing you or I must do to add to the finality of that sacrifice. We simply receive the gift of grace and worship out of a heart that overflows with gratitude.
That’s the good news of the cross for you, and that’s the good news of the cross for me. It’s good news today; it’s good news on Easter; it’s good news for all time. Grace. All is grace.
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