We sit in a dark room, guarded up, locked away for fear we'll be found. We're shaking, broken by our sin. Crippled by a mixture of grief and the weight of running away rather than standing up next to the One who led us and fed us and called us out of darkness.
He comes in. The shock of His presence draws us outside of ourselves. We blink away the fog of our heaviness; holy fear beckons our attention.
He invites us close. He says we must see, three times because He knows we're in a daze.
“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:39
The first two times He says see, He means grab your glasses, wipe your eyes, and have a look. But the last time? He bids us to consider. To look deeper into these things. To let our hearts soak in every inch of this wonder like we'd warm before a fire when cold has numbed us and made us hard.
We must inspect the contours of His flesh that bear the marks of love. We must glide our fingers gently across the places that were opened up for His blood to be poured out. We feel the ridges on His hands and feet, where scars now bear witness to triumph.
Triumph, a stark contrast to our present experience. Sin entangles and the Enemy whispers, "And you say you love God. You should be better than this.” But these wounds embedded on our Savior, though inflicted by our sin, these wounds are our deliverance, our healing.
How often would we rather look at our own shortcomings than at the stripes on the back of the King? Or truly, how often would we prefer to shield our sight from our own sin, and instead fixate on something less weighty? We'd rather close our eyes altogether than see the blackness of our hearts and the affliction Christ endured because of it.
Because if we start to gaze on the cross, we'll see the true offense of our sin. All our rebellion. All our choosing of self over others, over God. All our quick justifications that I'm not hurting anyone and I'd rather do it my way. All our self-righteous measuring and comparing. All of our entitlement and pride. All our vain seeking after the praise and glory of man. All of it erects that cursed tree.
And if we stare long enough at this tree, we'll see the gravity of our need. How we're helpless to ever be released from the power sin holds on us. How we'll never overcome the chasm our sin created between us and the God of all love and truth and goodness. We'll see that even our attempts at being good enough are laced with the sin of wanting to be God rather than wanting God Himself.
And all we want to do is lower our heads to the ground, ashamed that we could ever betray the One who loved us to death. But we need to keep looking. Our pride prefers lingering in our guilt and shame, prefers clinging to them more tightly than our Savior. These sights—our sin, need, and the inevitable shame of being the requirement for the cross—keep us in a perpetual Good Friday. That day where the Enemy thought the victory belonged to him, where things got dark and scary and confusing. Where hope waned and the One we trusted in to save us appeared incapable of saving Himself. And if we stay here, we start to agree with the Enemy: I should be better. I should know better. How am I still struggling with the same thing? Don't I love God? Why does He feel so distant?
This is when the Resurrected Savior comes low to lift our heads. He stretches out His scarred hand, vulnerable and open for us to take. He walks with us and whispers His gospel, that He came for this. He came to unbind chains and release us from the prison of sin and shame. He came to deliver us from darkness, from death itself. He turns us away from the sin we've indulged in, that we're weepy over, and leads us to the waiting arms of the Father.
This is why Jesus tells us to see. We must look until we see love. Love that changes us, changes what we love. We need to gaze on the cross, looking and listening until the wounds of Christ convince us of His eternal message: I want to be with you.
Those wounds bear witness to our redemption, to the perfect blood spilled, tearing the curtain of separation and inviting us back to intimacy with our God. Our God who lifted the curse by enduring it Himself. Our God who stands Victor over the cross of Good Friday. Our God who rose from the grave, ridding us of any doubt of His power to forgive sins and reconcile us to Himself.
This God says to get up close to these wounds. Because when we do, we’ll fall on our faces in worship. Worship that changes us, that gives way to belief gripped with assurance and mighty with hope. Because our crucified Savior rose from the dead, and we will sing of His love for all eternity.