I do not know where to begin.
I do not know what it is to hear a last breath.
I do not know what it is to witness death’s arrival firsthand.
I do not know what it is to lose an only child or a dear friend.
I do know an adult takes 12 to 20 breaths in a minute.
I do know there are 9 to 12 pints of blood in the human body.
I do know grief cannot be contained by words.
I’ve read of Jesus’ death through the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These are stories I have heard for far longer than I have understood their gravity. They tell of Jesus being whipped, a cruelty shaped by leather lashes studded with bone and metal (Mt. 27:26, Mk. 15:15). They speak of a twisted, thorny crown forced upon His head (Mt. 27:29, Mk. 15:17, Jn. 19:2). They recall a wooden crossbar and Jesus’ beaten body hung from it. They recount the darkness, His forsaken cry, a last breath. Death.
And in the wake of a torn curtain, I am undone.
I know what it is to exalt myself at the cost of another. I know what it is to accuse innocence. I know guilt intimately. My hands have dripped with it. Like Lady Macbeth, all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten these hands. The stains run too deep; I am marred with an inheritance of fault and a livelihood of selfishness.
I’m loved because God is worthy of it. I am loved because of who He is. As deeply as this shatters me, it was never about me. It’s about Him.
Yet despite my guilt before others - but more importantly before a God who is wholly other - someone else has come to take the punishment that I deserve. How could I be loved like this? Why would someone innocent take on my guilt? Why did Jesus choose to endure the pain I deserved, the death that was meant for me?
And I realize my focus is misplaced. I’m loved because God is worthy of it. I am loved because of who He is. As deeply as this shatters me, it was never about me. It’s about Him. It always has been. And it always will be. God alone is deserving of our affections and attention. And to make a way for me to love Him rightly, to glorify Him as He is worthy, He sent Jesus to do the very thing that I cannot do for myself.
I cannot restore what has broken, I cannot mend my own heart, I cannot correct the course of sin and send hope ahead to forge a new way. But a way of hope has been made, born of the blood Jesus; the only thing that could fully absolve my guilt. Because He bled, I can know life; I can know love.
What do I do with a love like that? A love that offers forgiveness in the dark. A love that gives peace knowing it will cost an innocent life. The life of a Son. Jesus. Only Jesus.
I now know where to begin.
While grief cannot be contained by words, Love cannot be contained by death. And as there is hope woven into the future, it is also anchored in the past. In the silent three days of death that then erupted in life. Life renewed in the broken body of a Savior, the Christ, God with us. Life restored to my guilty heart through pain I cannot understand.
Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.
One of her favorite Scriptures is:“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV