The Bright Sadness of Holy Week

Whether it’s circled in red marker on our wall calendars or programmed in green in our phones, many of us are anticipating Easter weekend. Often our traditions emphasize either resurrection rejoicing or cross-centered sorrow at the expense of the other. Which is the right posture?

Topics: The Death of Christ

Whether it’s circled in red marker on our wall calendars or programmed in green in our phones, many of us are anticipating Easter weekend. Often our traditions emphasize either resurrection rejoicing or cross-centered sorrow at the expense of the other. Which is the right posture?

Historically, the season of Lent has been called a “bright sadness.” As we enter into the reflective time of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, be encouraged to set your gaze upon Jesus, embracing the tension of these two emotions.

Forty days of an empty stomach. Suffering and temptation in the dry and dusty desert. Three years of miracles and ministry that culminate in denial, betrayal and abandonment. False accusations screamed and spit in the face of Perfection. A chained and guilty man gone free. Bloody beatings and cruel mocking. The Son of God, hanging on a wooden cross in the early morning sun. Jesus buried. Promises seemingly shattered. The stench of death settling in. Sadness.

And with this sadness comes brightness. The promise that a new wave of love is on the scene, a love best and brightest at Calvary (John 13:34-35). Our sin taken and our shame undone. A stone rolled away. Overcoming love, victory and the Son of God who rules the grave. Promises restored. We wait a coming resurrection. We know of a coming King. Behold, our God is making all things new (Rev. 21:1-5). Brightness.

Think about the uniqueness of Jesus. In Him, we see the collision of seemingly divergent brilliance. Lion and Lamb. Grace and Truth. Light and Life. Bread of Heaven and Living Water. Fully God and fully man. Mercifully just and lovingly sovereign. Our sobering reality is that the Son of God became the Lamb of God for the people of God. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 3:18).

Think about the collision of what is seemingly contradictory at the cross. Purity meets depravity. Mercy kisses judgment. Life through death. A God who is both just and justifier (Rom. 3:26).

And think about the collision of seemingly incongruent feelings that become our response. Tears and joy. Sorrow and thanksgiving. Anguished loss and awe-laden gain. Sadness and brightness. In sorrow and sadness, we recognize that it was our sins nailed through Jesus’ hands, the Father’s will that He be punished. In thanksgiving and brightness, we see that Christ’s love compelled Him to endure. We must fight the urge to give up one or the other response. Our correct posture is found in the tension.

May our gaze be locked upon Jesus this Easter season. May we know the lavished love of God poured out for us. May we know He cares about our sorrow. He is tuned into our affliction and has done something about it all. May we hope in the day when sin and suffering will be shattered with finality. May we come to worship Him expectantly. And may we worship Him knowing that He, the man of sorrows, has become our brightness.

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