REMINDER: Here is the link to download the beautiful candlelit devotional for Saturday's Great Vigil of Easter. It can be a relatively brief time together as you choose any number from the 12 "lessons" provided, which are various stories of God's faithfulness and promise, followed by coordinating prayers.
His Tomb, My Tomb
Jeanne-Jaques Henner's painting, Jesus at the Tomb (1874), is an image of the Savior's lifeless body, washed and still. As I stare at it, I want to let my words be few.
So many obvious things about me belong in the tomb. I remember a particular vile moment before I loved Jesus, just a sophomore in college. I angrily cursed a classmate who played a harmless prank on me. The hardwood of the old classroom floor had a random hole in it near my desk. She had arrived before me and placed the right rear leg of my chair over the hole. As I plopped down, half awake, I tipped backwards awkwardly, sending my hands up and out, as she and another classmate laughed uproariously.
I berated her, going after her lack of creativity and her childishness. I said she was, in my mind, already the sort of person that made the world such “a wasteland of lemmings” and now she was worse. She was stunned, tears filling her eyes. But I was not angry at her, really. I was angry at my life. At the world. At God. At the constant feeling of falling in some random hole opening up beneath me.
I had gone too far, and I didn’t know how to come back. I never did in moments like that. I often felt dead inside because of the maddening circumstances of my life. Tired of feeling. Drawn to numbing.
This version of me was in the tomb with Jesus. The death inside me became the death of a kind, selfless, sinless man. The barbs I hurled that day were the piercing tips that ran him through and bled him out. The death that always lingered on my lips buried him.
But my baptism is my tomb with Christ. The hateful, angry Seth died in those waters with Jesus. And every day I am moved to be who I am on the other side of Jesus’ death — and the death of that odious man I was.
As I reflect today on the burial of our poor Savior in a rich man’s tomb, I do well to consider this truth that cannot be amended or abridged no matter how unsavory it sounds in our therapeutic, sentimental world:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6–8)
Christ our God,
your love is poured out in death for our sakes.
Hold us in your embrace
as we wait for Easter’s dawn.
Comfort us with the promise that no power on earth, not even death itself,
can separate us from your love;
and strengthen us to wait
until you are revealed to us
in all your risen glory. Amen.