We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. – Romans 6:4-5
I must confess – Saturday has to be one of the most neglected days in what we consider holy week. Not to say that people haven’t speculated on what Jesus did for the days He was in the tomb. I’ve often contemplated that question as if Jesus needed to somehow fill His time with something spiritual while in the tomb. Something that has struck me in the past few years is what His disciples must have been going through and how the three days of waiting for Christ’s resurrection must have benefited them, even if they didn’t know it at the time. Here are three things that died along with Christ that should also die in us as we reflect this weekend:
An Earthly Kingdom
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the coming Jewish Messiah was the idea that He would come and destroy the Romans and return Israel to a world power. This power would elevate the lowly state of Israel from being oppressed to being oppressor, from powerless to powerful, from impoverished to prominent. The masses longed for an earthly king and an earthly kingdom that they might live in comfort and security. It is unclear how deeply rooted this idea was in the hearts of Jesus’s disciples, but it is clear that any delusions of grandeur that they may have had in following Jesus died with Him as He hung shamefully on the cross. Likewise, we would do well to allow our earthly constructs of Christ to die. Some popular ones of late are the ideas that Jesus is pro-American, pro-Republican, pro-Democrat, pro-gun, pro-prosperity, and any number of other misunderstandings of the King of kings. We must return to an understanding of Christ as He is revealed in His Word.
Humans in general have traded the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1). We have rebelled against God’s Word, trusting our own wisdom and abilities over what He has proclaimed. In this, we have attempted to build our own tower to heaven despite the warnings that there is only one way to heaven. And yet, human history, indeed the history of every human being, has proven that we are determined to try and make it to heaven on our own. We have come up with our own plans and at times twisted God’s plan in order to achieve salvation for ourselves. Christ’s death on the cross speaks for all eternity that He is the only way to reconciliation with the Father. The people of Israel had historically attempted to use the law as a means of earning right relationship with God, although the law was never meant to save. Jesus work on behalf of sinners as the perfect sacrifice for our sin kills any self-righteousness we might attempt to present as enough for entrance into glory. As we remember the Cross this weekend, remember that it stands as the final resting place of any form of self-righteousness that we may have achieved in our lives. At the Cross there is no longer a record of wrongs or rights done in hope of earning salvation.
Much like the misunderstandings of Christ’s Kingdom that we’ve mentioned above, the Cross kills in us any hope of self-preservation. When Christ is our example of how to be obedient to the Father, we are left with no chance for preserving our self-glorifying hopes and dreams of comfort and security. We will constantly be called to service, sacrifice, humility, and self-control. All of these contradict our natural bent towards self-preservation. Our hopes that this life will be comfortable, neat, and profitable for us must be buried with Christ as He shows us a better way. Any thought that the disciples had that Jesus’s words about dying to themselves, being hated by the world, and the like were somehow figurative or abstract were dashed as Christ died upon the Cross. We must allow our hope of self-preservation to be buried with Christ and stay with Him as we are raise to a hope beyond this life.
There were many things that died with Christ on the Cross. The misconceptions of who He was and what He was about were buried with Him. His disciples faced nagging questions about who He really was and how they would proceed. They were forced to wrestle with questions of whether His words about resurrection were true – whether the life to come was really worth throwing away comforts and self-righteousness here. We must wrestle with the same. One this Saturday of holy week, may we wrestle with our own preconceived notions of Christ and what He has purchased for us in His life, death, and resurrection. Lord, may allow our misunderstandings of Christ to die with Him and awaken us to the glory of who He truly is. Amen.