O death! Where is your victory?
O death! Where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15.55
Yesterday’s service had zero flow to it, on purpose. The goal wasn’t to take us from point A to point B; the goal was to celebrate, rejoice, make a joyful noise because HE IS RISEN!
Cue: “He is risen indeed.”
We started with a five minute drum solo for three reasons:
- The Matthew account of the ressurection has an earthquake, is a frightening scene, and I assume loud.
- All three of the exceptional drummers of New Song Inland Hills were on the platform and I wanted to highlight them.
- I’ve never heard a five minute drum solo in church. So, I figured, why not? Next week no singing or sermon, only drum solos. An hour and a half of drum solos.
The rest of the service we sang songs about the ressurection, but today I want to highlight the new one we sang because it’s got powerful lyrics and it’s a personal favorite. So let’s discuss the lyrics of “Christ Is Risen” by Matt Maher a bit further.
Let no one caught in sin remain/ inside the lie of inward shame.
Written out it’s a complete thought, but the way the melody is written it sings as a double entendre forming two distinct thoughts and then one complete thought.
“Let no one caught in sin remain.”
I love that verb “caught.” Christ told us that what is done in the dark will be brought to the light. People are led to repentance by getting caught. Whether that is getting “caught” by God and led to repentance by the Spirit. Or, a more material caught – maybe by a loved one, or a friend, or a coworker – that leads to repentance.
But when it happens spectators like me ask, “Do they feel bad only because they got caught?” And I hate that question.
If I didn’t like sin, I wouldn’t sin. I want to sin. I enjoy sin. In the midst of sinning do I feel bad? Maybe, a little. But, mostly no. When in the midst of sinning I’m in Wonderland, and I have no grasp on reality. This doesn’t make my sin any less wicked, this doesn’t mean I’m not culpable for my actions, this doesn’t make reality any less devastating.
It takes some kind of “getting caught” that leads to sorrowful repentance. When we’ve been dragged out of darkness and into light we mustn’t close our eyes and pretend we still dwell in shadows.
“Inside the lie of inward shame.”
Ask my wife – I’m predisposed to a guilty conscience. Even the most harmless of offenses and I’ll apologize for a week. After I’ve recieved forgiveness I’ll continue begging for forgiveness. I’m prone to beating myself up. I apologize more than the 10th Doctor:
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
The song continues:
We fix our eyes upon the cross/ and run to him who showed great love /and bled for us/ freely you bled for us
We try and abolish sin in our lives with a can-do spirit and giving it the ole college try. In our minds Christ washes us of all our sin and we take it from there. But the solution to our on-going sin issue isn’t working real hard it’s looking to the cross. The only action we can take to stop sinning is fixing our eyes on the cross:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3.18 ESV
We’re not mostly good and with a little effort able to be totally good. If that were the case God wouldn’t have had to send his Son. Because God didn’t send his Son to give decent people a push in the right direction; He didn’t sent his Son to make decent and kind people more decent and more kind. Jesus came to see out and save sin sick people like you and me.
We don’t work our way out of sin, we worship our way out of sin.** We don’t make ourselves right with God, Jesus’ death and ressurection does. We don’t cure ourselves of the sickness in our bodies, Jesus’ death and ressurection does.
Christ is risen from the dead/ trampling over death by death
Christ’s victory didn’t look like victory. It looked bloody. It looked tortured. It looked like a young man nailed to a tree. It looked like blasphemy. It took the death of God for Death to be defeated once and for all.
Every Easter I read John Donne’s sonnet, “Death be not proud.” This year I read it to the band before rehearsal. It ends like this:
One short sleepe past, we wake eternally
And death shall be nore more; death, thou shalt die.
Let us not for a moment think that Christ was defeated on Friday and victorious only on Sunday. The cross was God’s victory; Jesus was a willing sacrifice for our sin. I love how Matt Maher puts it in the second verse:
Beneath the weight of all our sin/ You bow to none but heavens will/ No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown/ No burden great can hold you down/ In strength you reign/ Forever let your church proclaim:
*I recorded a demo of “Christ is Risen” with my good friends Mike Lang and Rebecca Brogan a few years back. Rebecca just released an EP of her own that is fantastic and you should go buy it now:
“It is Written” by Rebecca Brogan.
**That link is a must-read so I’ll give you the link again:
“Worshipping Our Way Out of Sin” by Zac Hicks.