All Year Holiday Devotionals

“He isn’t here!” Mark 16:6

At Golgotha, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He became sin for us, was rejected by his Father, and was the legal satisfaction of justice due on our behalf. This is what Jesus did when he died on Good Friday.

Three days later, he did something even more wonderful for us. We talk less often, and less dramatically, about what Jesus did in the garden. In the garden, Jesus was buried in a tomb. On Easter Sunday, he came back to life and broke through the grave that he was interned in.

Jesus was buried with our sins, but rose back to life without them. He left our sins behind in the tomb. We are told that Jesus broke the law of sin and death. When he defied death, he also played the ultimate trick on sin— sin can’t rise again. Baptism is described by the Apostle Paul as a symbol of going down with our sins into a watery grave as Jesus did, and being brought back up in a sinless life as Jesus was.

I have been hit so hard recently by the phrase “hidden with Christ” (Colossians 3:3.) Why am I completely absolved of all guilt? Because the guilty Natalie is hidden in the tomb of Christ. What does this mean for me? It means that no one can accuse me of my sin, because that sin is sealed away. It got left behind in the garden.

On Easter, the angel told the women who came looking for the body of Jesus, “He isn’t here!” And I get to say that same thing. When the Accuser tries to condemn me. When the naysayer tries to discourage me. When my own heart begins to fail, I can shout, “She isn’t here!” The me that was a slave to sin is not here! I have risen in Christ’s resurrection, and my sin is trapped in a borrowed tomb.

Satan, the Accuser, heaps our sins back at our feet. When he does, you can say with confidence— “She is not here; that one is not me!”

Satan had his one revelry day. He had his one day to tear Jesus down. On the cross, Satan got his enjoyment in accusing God Himself. But, Satan, does not get to accuse you!! Because he got his three hours, his one short day to accuse Jesus, he does not have any claim on accusing you or I. He can’t have it both ways! Satan got to taunt and torment and defile the character of Jesus the day of Jesus’ death. The cross cost the devil every ounce of license to do that to me. He wanted to shame God, it’s all he’s ever wanted; and God let him do it!– in exchange for never, ever being allowed to put shame on me. 

When the weight of your sins make you think of Christ’s death, don’t mourn there forever, because Jesus gathered up your guilt at Golgotha and buried it permanently in the garden.

“When your heart condemns you, fear not for God is greater than your heart,” 1 John 3:20. 

* This was how we started explaining Easter to our daughter. I kinda love it. With a craft paper box and a million stickers, we decorated “a garden box.” I read to her from a kid’s “say and pray” bible with a cute illustration of the garden and an angel chillin’ out on top of Jesus’ tomb. We talked about how we are decorating these beautiful garden boxes remembering how wonderful it is that our sins are locked away forever in Jesus’ tomb and that we live free with Him.

Clementine is only 2 yrs old now, but I am thinking as she gets older, we can add a time of reflection and personal confession to this craft, and maybe write down some things that have been bothering her (and us) on Good Friday, put them in the box for the weekend, and then on Easter Sunday praise God that there is nothing that can separate us from God or diminish the complete work that Christ did for us on the cross.

All Year Holiday Devotionals

“This is the King of the Jews” Luke 23:38

Easter is approaching and so the Gospels have been the focal point of the sermons at church. Our pastor just read Luke 23 to us week before last. He didn’t comment all that much on the scriptures, he mostly just read them aloud. I am very familiar with the Passion of the Christ, so I didn’t expect to be hit very hard by the verbal picture that unfolded.

The description of Jesus falsely accused before Pilate, his innocence ignored in favor of a murderer, his flesh torn open until his whole being was red and raw. And then thrown atop his open wounds, a kingly robe to disparage his identity as King of the Universe. They roughly pressed into his brow an ugly crown and tempted him to prove himself.

My, how he could have proved that he is King. My, how he could have spread the wings of his glory and destroyed the whole empire with the force of a single movement, or by the mightiness of his Name alone. But instead he remained silent, swaying in exhaustion, a pitiful sight of perversity— a fraudulent display of kingship, a joke.

This mental picture of a broken, bloody, powerless, exhausted and defeated king, finally hammered in for me what it means that Jesus “became sin for us.” That is my sin! That picture of Jesus on crucifixion day is the picture of my sin! If my sin were to take shape and be personified in actual flesh, it would be Jesus knelt in his own blood, nearly in trance due to pain, wearing a dunce cap and a jester’s clothes. 

My sin is the delusion of my own kingship! I am a perverse little king, wanting to be praised and admired. I am a little dictator, wanting to have my way at even just small expenses to others. I am a little bit of a Lucifer, wanting recognition for my beauty, talents, merits, efforts, and accomplishments. I am the itsy bitsy spider dutifully spinning the web of my temporary successes. Jesus became that sin! He became a grotesque, dying, mockery because I am a grotesque, dying, mockery.

God is jealous of His glory we are told. He does not share it. Lucifer fell from heaven because he desired recognition, affirmation, a pat on the back, a flattering word, a small praise, acknowledgement, thanks…just a little glory of his own. But God does not, will not, share the glory of His crown! Not with his angels, not with nature, not with you or me. His magnitude blasts through the meagerness of any attempt at beauty that is not originated from the wealth of His own treasury. The trap set for Eve was receiving a little knowledge of her own, getting a hand on a little more than God gave. God was holding out on them, she was told, because He is jealous and won’t share the gifting that defines His power. “Get a little glory, Eve.” Original sin; the original sin that Jesus became for us.

Jesus, who really is King, became the false king that I am. He who

is Truth, became falsehood for me. He who is Glory, became degenerate for me. He became ridiculous because we are ridiculous. He became despicable because we are despicable. He became an impostor because we are impostors. He became the fading glory of all my efforts revealed as illegitimate and futile. He became my incapacity. He became my failure. He became my frustration. He became my cry— “Abba, Father, why have you forsaken me!!!”