Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb

As a friend wrote on her status today..."Spend some time today trying to live in that space between the cross and the empty tomb. After hope has left. Before grace has come." This really struck a cord with me. That space, that emptiness, that hopeless pit between the cross and the tomb is where millions live today. If Jesus didn't rescue me, I'd be camped there, in that hopeless space...in all my own righteousness and in my own desire to be good. I'd be in a place where failure was constant and inevitable, where perfection was always just out of reach, where my wholeness was always just one more good deed away. But praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have been rescued! 
(Photo by Ann Voskamp)

Friday, my space between the cross and the empty tomb, is an ugly one. My space is a prison, in which I am a slave to my own self-generated goodness that is simply never enough. My space has me trapped in a sea of self-righteousness renewed by self-effort and resolutions, even thought the outcome is always the same- imperfect and incomplete. My space between the cross and the empty tomb is a hell-like prison. It's filled with slavery to my own goodness and my own efforts. It's a place where I live in pride and function under the false identity that I have to perform in order to get the Father to love me, to embrace me, to accept me. 

You see, every single one of us would've been yelling, "Hosanna!!!" as Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem, and every single one of us would've been yelling, "Crucifiy Him!" just days later. It's just a matter of which kind of person you were that killed the Son of God. We often think those calling out "Crucify Him!!!" were those "sinners." You know, those really terrible people who were the law-breakers, the rule-haters, the obviously outward evil people who did things worthy of jail time and death. The people who didn't "get" that Jesus was God. But guess what, all the "do-gooders" (a.k.a. equally awful sinners) were standing right alongside the law-breaking "sinners" yelling "Crucify Him!" just as loud. 
And do you know who I would've been? I would've been the "do-gooder." I would've been among the crowd of the Pharisees, one of the ones lost in their own righteousness and their own desire to be good. Why would I have been shaking my fist to kill God's Son? Because he threatened to obliterate my desire to feel like a "good" person, and if this Jesus was who He said he was, my goodness is not my own, the glory is not mine, it's God's, and that would be infuriating enough to kill someone. I would've yelled "Crucify Him!" because my desire to be my own savior and to be perfect would now be forever satisfied in the goodness of this God-Man Jesus. Is that good news? Absolutely! If Jesus has rescued the Pharisee from himself and made him whole and perfect IN JESUS, then it's incredible news!!! But if Jesus hasn't rescued the Pharisee, or if the Pharisee continues to go back and live in that ugly space between the cross and the empty tomb, it's not good news, it's infuriating news. It's infuriating b/c the Gospel is not good news to those who pride themselves in their hard work. They don't understand that mercy trumps the law, and they don't understand that the Gospel isn't for "good" people who just want to be "gooder." The Gospel is for sinners- the prodigal sinners and the pharisaical sinners. Both are equally as wicked as the other, though outwardly they appear to be very different. Both live as hell-stricken prisoners, waiting on the day when their chains are bound for eternity to the desires of their hearts in hell- the desire to rebel (the prodigal), and the desire to be good (the pharisee).
(Photo by Ann Voskamp)

But guess what...it doesn't end there...it doesn't have to end there, because Sunday is coming...

What does your space between the cross and the empty tomb look like? If you don't know what it looks like, if you don't know what you've been rescued from, you may find yourself celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday as if you wouldn't have been one of the ones yelling "Crucify Him!" and you will miss the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good.