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Jesus’ Victory

“The one who faced death out of love for me” — Good Shepherd, Upperroom

As I came across these words while singing and playing piano on Easter Saturday 2023, I felt the love of God tangibly wash over me. I sang as my tears fell. It was a beautiful, sensory experience of God’s deep love evidenced on the cross.

However, at the same time, I felt a sense of dissonance in myself. In that moment my body was experiencing joy, but my mind was reading the lyrics and saying, “Yeah, He did that… so what? I get that He died. I get that He loves us. We say it all the time. What about it?”

We talk about the death of Jesus and His motive of love, especially during the weekend of Easter, but so often, it feels like we are detached from the reality of it. We grow numb to it. How can we talk about Jesus’ death, about His love, so casually, at times without a hint of adoration or thankfulness?

As I sang, I meditated on what His death actually entailed and why my soul was overwhelmed by a reality that my mind had to catch up to. This is where the Lord led me.

Death is the fullness of everything destructive in this world. Sickness, pain and heartbreak are all manifestations of death. Death has never been God’s intention. He gave us life and continues to give us life.

I recently started counseling, which has resulted in a resurfacing of trauma and emotional abuse, things that I had blocked out so that I could get through life. But although I’d blocked some of these things out, their lingering effects had been sabotaging my mind and body, and I’ve needed to bring these issues into the light to receive God’s healing, so I can live as one shaped by God and not by trauma.

Last night, I felt worried about my future, how I was going to handle all the things on my plate, making plans that I need to execute to perfection. I felt loneliness, missing friends I don’t get to enjoy life with on a consistent basis. I felt the pain of longing for things that are not present in my life, part of that longing being healthy but part of it being rooted in the effects of trauma.

Eventually this turmoil subsided as God led me to meditate on His presence and provision. In the end I fell asleep peacefully, but this night had been precipitated by many other nights when I’d fallen asleep in the midst of the turmoil.

All these mental and emotional disturbances I mentioned, and more, are manifestations of death in our lives. They show up as despair, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, pain, grief, and more.

When Jesus faced death, He faced the full weight of ALL of these things. We’re aware of the physical torment and we have some vague sense of “the sin of the world” being taken on by Him, but these things tend to become simple sayings without the weight of reality behind them when we don’t mediate on what they ACTUALLY mean. He dealt with ALL of these manifestations of death, which we encounter on a daily basis. And He tangibly shows His love in the way He heals us of these things.

Along these lines, two things stand out from the crucifixion.

1) Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We see hints of what it meant for Jesus to face death in this proclamation of despair and emotional distress. I believe Jesus, in His humanity, felt a disconnection from the Father, the relationship which was the sole source of life and purpose for Him. He experienced death not just physically but mentally and emotionally. That’s good news for us!

2) Regarding those who were putting Him death, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As He faced death, He didn’t blame people. He forgave people. The pain didn’t drive Him to anger and retaliation, but to love. Wow.

Because JESUS faced this death out of love for us, WE get to enjoy the fullness of relationship with God, of life and purpose and a unbreakable communion. This is a present reality, not just something in the distant future. In my despair, I can recognize that Jesus faced the fullness of despair because He loves me. Instead of being stuck in it forever, I have full access to a real relationship with God that restores me. Because He defeated death, I have a way out of this despair. His love shows itself through the way He heals me of the effects of death in my life.

As you think about Jesus’ death, take a moment and recognize that on the cross He experienced the full measure of any pain that you have been or are currently experiencing. Through facing the fullness of death and defeating it with a victorious resurrection, He became the sole source of our healing.

So when we sing about His death, let’s not go through the motions. His death was excruciating. Intolerable for any of us. Emotionally, mentally, physically, He suffered to the full extent! We can find comfort in that truth as we face those things. He is able to comfort because He knows the pain. And He rose! Defeating death and every way it manifests itself, beckoning us into restoration. We can find strength and life to move forward with Him because of that.

Jesus knows death. He faced it, He overcame it, and He’s inviting you to draw close to Him in the midst of your suffering so He can comfort, heal, and restore you. This is what His love looks like. Receive this gift… costly to Him, but free to you.

Jesus, thank You for facing death out of love for us. Let that reality sink into our hearts and minds. Help us embrace the full significance of Your victory over death in our lives today. Let your love be not just a concept, but a lived, real experience! Amen.

Denis belongs to an Inspire House Fellowship in Wilmore, KY, USA. 

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