Don’t Mourn For Christ


No, I don’t think it’s too early to think about Easter.

Some years ago 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 were good, but a couple things dawned on me as I read the 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 I should tell some time).

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

This post first appeared here in April 2012.

Published in: on March 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm  Comments Off on Don’t Mourn For Christ  
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Defining Easter


A few years ago, I watched an unpopular senator get re-elected, though many thought she’d finally met her match. However, she got ahead of her opponent by defining her for the public through a number of attack ads. By the time the challenger came out with her ads saying what she would do as a senator, few people were listening. They already had her labeled, courtesy of Ms. Unpopular Incumbent.

That political race told me a lot about how the public works in this day and age. We deplore attack ads, but we listen to them. We may not even realize we do, but it shows when people start saying what they believe about this or that candidate—they often parrot material straight from the playbook of one candidate or the other.

In the same way, Christians are allowing non-Christians to define us, to the point that we’re buying into their judgment of us. Worse, we are regurgitating the ideas, as if they have merit, as if they are true.

I heard one a few years ago that really bothered me: “Protestants don’t like to think about Jesus on the cross.” All that blood and death supposedly makes us want to look away. The Catholics, now they embrace this dark side of salvation. By implication, the idea was, So should we.

I admit, I felt a little defensive—mostly because the accusation is scurrilous. In my church we regularly take communion, and usually that has been a time of reflection on Christ’s sacrifice, His broken body, His shed blood. How many times have I sung “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” or “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” or “‘Tis Midnight, And On Olive’s Brow” or “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”?

We no longer sing those hymns, but the fact that contemporary song writers are not writing about Christ’s suffering doesn’t mean that Protestants don’t or haven’t put an emphasis on what Christ did in dying.

In addition, I’ve heard from our pulpit more than one sermon about Christ’s death, none more powerful than “Death on a Cross” that graphically took us through Christ’s scourging and beating and humiliation and nails and hours writhing in pain, to the spear piercing His side and proving His death. (You can listen to a sermon from the same text in the book of John by the same pastor, this one entitled “Jesus: A Lamb Led to Slaughter”)

I find it ironic, though, that we Christian Protestant Evangelicals should be taken to task for focusing on Christ, the resurrected Lord, seated at the right hand of God. In fact, the cross Protestants display, whenever we do, is barren because Jesus didn’t stay dead. He is, in fact, a risen Savior. But is this a point for which we should be ashamed?

For all Christians Easter is a joyous time, less about mourning Christ’s death, and more about celebrating His resurrection.

The cross is significant, no doubt. The whole idea of communion is to obey Christ by remembering His body broken for us, His blood given for the forgiveness of our sins.

In Colossians Paul says clearly that our “certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us” was nailed to the cross. Without Christ’s death, we’d still have the insurmountable burden of what we owe.

The cross affected Christ in every facet of human existence. He was forsaken, betrayed, denied, humiliated, rejected, tortured, misunderstood, condemned, doubted, and killed. For me. For you.

Yes, it was bloody. Yes, it was painful, like few have experienced. But focusing on the physical alone is to miss the wider scope of what Jesus did. He bore our sins. The Man who had the nature of His perfect Father, who lived accordingly, took on the stench of His fallen brothers—the sin which separates us from God.

How can that be? A Holy God, bearing sin? An immortal God, dying?

It is by Jesus’s blood, by His precious blood, we are redeemed. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. So we bring to God nothing but our broken and contrite hearts. How can anyone say, Protestants look away from the cross? Perhaps they’ve mistaken our weeping for closed eyes.

This post is a revision of one that appeared here in March 2012.

Published in: on March 31, 2015 at 4:48 pm  Comments (6)  
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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

Defining Who We Are


Two years ago, I watched an unpopular senator get re-elected though many thought she’d finally met her match. However, she got ahead of her opponent and defined her for the public. By the time the challenger came out with her ads saying what she would do as a senator, few people were listening. They already had her labeled, courtesy of Ms. Unpopular.

That political race told me a lot about how the public works in this day and age. We deplore attack ads, but we listen to them. We may not even realize we are, but it shows when people start saying what they believe about this or that candidate — the material is often straight out of the opponent’s playbook.

In the same way, Christians are allowing non-Christians to define us, to the point that we’re buying into it ourselves. Worse, we are parroting the ideas, as if they have merit, as if they are true.

I heard one on Sunday that really bothered me: Protestants don’t like to think about Jesus on the cross. All that blood and death makes us want to look away. The Catholics, now they embrace this dark side of salvation. By implication, the idea was, So should we.

I admit, I felt a little defensive — mostly because the accusation is scurrilous. In my church we regularly take communion, and until recently that was a time of reflection on Christ’s sacrifice, His broken body, His shed blood. How many times have I sung “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” or “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” or “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”?

That contemporary song writers are not writing about Christ’s suffering doesn’t mean that Protestants don’t or haven’t put an emphasis on what Christ did in dying.

In addition, I’ve heard from our pulpit more than one sermon about Christ’s death, none more powerful than “Death on a Cross” that graphically took Christ through the scourging and beating and humiliation and nails and hours writhing in pain, to the spear piercing his side and proving his death. (You can listen to a sermon from the same text in the book of John by the same pastor, this one entitled “Jesus: A Lamb Led to Slaughter”)

I find it ironic, though, that we should be taken to task for focusing on Christ the resurrected Lord seated at the right hand of God. I’ve heard more than once that the cross Protestants display is barren because Jesus didn’t stay dead. He is, in fact, a risen Savior. Easter is a joyous time.

The cross is significant, no doubt. Paul says clearly that our “certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us” was nailed to the cross. Without Christ’s death, we’d still have the burden of what we owe — an insurmountable burden.

The cross affected Christ in every facet of human existence. He was forsaken, betrayed, denied, humiliated, rejected, tortured, misunderstood, condemned, doubted, and killed. For me. For you.

Yes, it was bloody. Yes, it was pain, like few have experienced. But focusing on the physical alone is to miss the wider scope of what Jesus did. He bore our sins. The Man who had the nature of His Father, who lived accordingly, took on the stench of his fallen brothers — that which separates us from God.

How can that be? A Holy God, bearing sin? An immortal God, dying?

It is by Jesus’s blood we are sprinkled, by His precious blood we are redeemed. How can anyone say, Protestants look away from the cross? Perhaps they’ve mistaken our weeping for closing our eyes.

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm  Comments (5)  
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