But praise be to God...Sunday came! Jesus rose from the grave! Now there is hope for the prodigal and hope for the pharisee. Because Jesus, in all His perfection, died and rose again, our space between the cross and the empty tomb can be redeemed. We are all sin stricken to our core- lost in our own "goodness," or lost in our own rebelliousness. We all need Jesus, and Jesus is the only one who can redeem us and make us His. No amount of goodness (the pharisee) will ever be enough, and no amount of "cleaning up our act" (the prodigal) will ever be good enough. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through Me" (John 14:7).
Is your space between the cross and empty tomb despairing? Mine is. Do you want freedom from its binding chains and hopeless future? Jesus is the answer...the death, burial, and resurrection is the answer.
My old self was despairing and hopeless. It was one in which the snares of perfectionism and self-generated goodness had me in chains. It was the self that rejected Jesus as Savior by trying to avoid sin and grow in practical holiness out of my own strength and pride. But praise be to God!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)Wow. What a verse. Such blessing. Such freedom. Such scandalous love... that Jesus would love a messed up, lost, and wayward person like myself. That He would die an excruciating death to free me from my filthy goodness and give me His perfect goodness.
You see, because Jesus has forgiven my sin, because Jesus is my King, I no longer have to live in that empty space between the cross and the tomb. I don't need to be perfect. Jesus already is. I don't have to live a perfect life. Because I am "in Christ" (forgiven, saved, a Christian), I am holy. Because of the cross, I was gifted Jesus' holiness and perfection. I no longer have to use my own goodness to gain love, access, or approval from God the Father. This is called the Gospel and it's the most freeing thing that has ever happened, and will ever happen in my life. The Gospel is present because of Easter Sunday. Mercy trumps the law. The Gospel isn't for good people so they can work harder to become even more good. Perfection is impossible and Jesus doesn't even want me striving to be perfect because He already is!
My space between the cross and the empty tomb was despairing. It was hopeless. But now, because of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I walk in a new life... a life where Jesus' perfection and goodness is wholly mine. My prideful pursuit of being my own savior, lost in my own righteousness and my own desire to be good, was left at the foot of the cross. How bout you? Do you live in that space? That dark, empty, and lonely space, that ultimately will end in your death? Do you still live in that space, before grace arrived? There is hope. There is freedom...