Don’t Mourn For Christ

My church, First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, provided us with a pamphlet of devotional thoughts, one for each day this week, centered on the cross. They’ve been good, but a couple things dawned on me as I read today’s meditation on Colossians 2:13-14.

First, the blood and suffering and death Christ experienced is a past event. It’s hard to work up a lot of grief for a past event. I don’t think I ever expressed sympathy, for example, to my mom for the suffering she went through at my birth. Maybe I should have, but it was past. She wasn’t suffering any more, and the only genuine emotion I felt was gladness and relief (because we both almost died — it’s a good story).

But that brings me to the second thing that dawned on me. The death of Christ was necessary. The Colossians verses give a vivid picture of Christ taking our certificate of debt — the insurmountable bill we owe that demands death — and removing it by nailing it to the cross.

Notice, it is Christ who nailed it to the cross. This is entirely His work, of which I am the beneficiary.

So my reaction is gratitude — extreme gratitude. He did what I could not. He gave what I needed most — His precious blood:

you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Thankfully, Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient. His death was so perfect and complete that it is acceptable in God’s sight to pay for the sins of all who believe in Him. No ritual I do to commemorate His crucifixion will contribute in any way to His finished work. No tears I shed for Him can make me worthy of this incredible gift.

The third thing that came to mind, then, is that celebrating Good Friday as if Christ is again dying, as if I should still grieve for him, is wrong headed. Commemorating it as the day Christ nailed my certificate of debt to the cross is another story. That’s a celebration of what Christ accomplished.

Consequently I don’t mourn for Christ year after year, or even each month when I take communion. But I do mourn for my sin that necessitated His death. Remembering the cross makes me fall on my face and weep at His kindness to die for sinners.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

Remembering His cross makes me weep at the thought of my rebellious heart and the ways I still kick against His authority. I would be like Christ, but I’m not. Not yet. And that’s cause to grieve.

Until Resurrection Day reminds me that I too will one day walk in newness of life.

    Who Will Call Him King Of Kings

    In cold despair
    They’d laid Him in the tomb
    The body of their Master fair
    Third morning came
    As they returned to pray
    Light was shining everywhere
    But Jesus’ body was not there

    And as they gazed at an empty grave
    The earth around began to shake
    And they were so afraid
    But voices of angels filled the air
    Their shouts proclaimed “He is not here”
    And you could hear them say

    Who will call Him King of kings
    Who will call Him Lord of lords
    Who will call Him Prince of Peace
    Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God
    Who will call Him King

    Their spirits soared
    As fear was turned to joy
    Standing there before their eyes
    Jesus clothed in radiant white

    And with a voice they’d heard before
    He told me “Go and tell the world that I’m alive”
    They ran as fast as feet could fly
    “The Lord is risen” was their cry
    And you could hear them say

    We will call Him King of kings
    We Will call Him Lord of lords
    We will call Him Prince of Peace
    Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God

    Just like He said
    He is risen from the dead
    And the people say

    I will call Him King of kings
    I will call Him Lord of lords
    I will call Him Prince of Peace
    Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God
    I will call Him King
    I will call Him King
    I will call Him King

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8 Comments

  1. You wrote: “The third thing that came to mind, then, is that celebrating Good Friday as if Christ is again dying, as if I should still grieve for him, is wrong headed. Commemorating it as the day Christ nailed my certificate of debt to the cross is another story. That’s a celebration of what Christ accomplished.”

    Perhaps this is why I feel so uncomfortable with certain types of re-enactments, and chose not to watch The Passion of the Christ, not because Christ’s death wasn’t very important, but because I do not feel obliged to continually relive it!

    But I could never have put those feelings into words as well as you have done here! Thank you!

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  2. Thanks!

    You reminded me of Nehemiah 8:9&10

    And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

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  3. Becky, I understand that we don’t want to wallow, HOWEVER, by your standard all the events of His life should elicit no emotional response in us; the only thing to elicit emotional response should be our sinfulness. Hmm, can’t agree. Emotion is human. By this standard then, we shouldn’t praise the Lord with special joy on the Feast of the Resurrection? It seems your overreacting to excesses.

    By the way, the story of your Mom and you sounds more than intriguing. Glad you both made it!

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  4. Krysti, I’m glad this post expressed something you’ve thought about too. I am definitely uncomfortable with some of the re-enactments or celebrations that involve us doing something related to the cross or nails. (And for a different, but related, reason I don’t like Christians “celebrating Passover” either). Christ Himself said, “It is finished.” I’m not able to add anything by any kind of act, even if it’s an act of worship instead of service. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worship or serve, but I worship the risen Christ. He died in a point in time in a particular place, but today He’s alive.

    I’ve tried and tried to come up with analogies and they all are inadequate, but it would be like a man who has been married happily for fifty years choosing to commemorate his bachelor party instead of his wedding.

    Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation.

    Becky

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  5. Sally, what a great analogy. I suppose, though, the people in Nehemiah’s day were weeping because of their sin, and I think that’s an appropriate and understandable response to the cross. I don’t think it’s particularly good, though to do some of the trendy things that seem to put us in the scene as if we are once again nailing Christ to the cross. No, that work is finished.

    Becky

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  6. Hi, Marie, hope you’re doing well.

    You said

    HOWEVER, by your standard all the events of His life should elicit no emotional response in us

    Apparently you extrapolated from my idea of not grieving for a dead Christ because He is alive, to say that we should withhold all emotion for any past event.

    No, that’s not my position at all. We can rejoice that Christ was born because He showed us God in the flesh. We can rejoice that He healed and taught and cast out demons because He made the power of God live anew. We can rejoice that He forgave sinners because that shows His heart and love and gives us hope. We can rejoice for the stories He told because it gives us insights into His work and plan and person.

    It’s just this one thing. We are to remember Christ’s death — that’s the point of the sacrament of communion. He shed His blood for me. His body was broken for me. And I grieve that my sin necessitated so great a sacrifice.

    But am I sorry that Christ died? I am so incredibly thankful and indebted to Him, but I don’t know how I could actually mourn. He isn’t suffering now. The done part of His suffering has brought only good. He defeated death and hell and the grave, sin and guilt and the law. He freed me and to boot, He didn’t stay dead.

    So all I can think to do is thank Him and weep for my sin, and love Him more. Just not mourn.

    Hope that helps clarify what I’m saying in this post.

    Becky

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    • Becky, I do understand that we aren’t sorry He died — God forbid! For not only would we be lost but, more importantly, we would be sorry that the Father’s will, and His own, was accomplished. I’m just sorry that He suffered anguish, and remembering at Communion, humanly speaking, includes tears for Him.

      Correspondingly, sometimes we can cry for what our sin did to the whole of Creation; and though the Lord made and is making and will make that all right again, it’s still sad and still hurts.

      Bless you! I usually don’t respond contrary to your thoughts, but this week has meant that more than once I’ve listened to Via Dolorosa. Jesus Christ saved the whole man and whole woman, and He sanctified our emotional life.

      Maria

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  7. […] fact, I posted one of the songs a few days ago with Sandi Patty’s performance of it. If you haven’t […]

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