God is love. His love sent Jesus to this earth; His love sent Jesus to the cross. Jesus’ love for you and for His Father meant that He accepted this charge willingly, going forth to suffer and die for you and your salvation. Saint John understood this love, writing in his first letter: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” There is no greater example of love than Good Friday, as the last verse of our hymn declares, “Never was love, dear King, never was grief like Thine.” The grief of the cross means that you will live even though you die, the suffering and humiliation of the cross means that you will be delivered from suffering and exalted to heaven. Christ’s death means your life, Christ’s tomb means your resurrection.
“In life no house, no home my Lord on earth might have; in death no friendly tomb but what a stranger gave. What may I say? Heaven was His home but mine the tomb wherein He lay. Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine! Never was love, dear King, never was grief like Thine. This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.”
Christ died in your place, and He was buried in your place. Heaven is His home, the place where He belonged, but in death He lay in your tomb. He suffered all that you deserved: the wrath of God and the penalty of death, then He rested in the earth. He lay in the tomb for you, to sanctify your grave, for as the grave couldn’t hold Him, so it will not hold you. His tomb stands empty, broken, with all of its power destroyed, demonstrating that death itself has been crushed. He stayed in the tomb, but He didn’t remain there, and so your tomb is transformed from a place of defeat to a place of rest, where you will wait for the victory. For the trumpet will sound, and you will be raised, to be with your friend, your Savior, “in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.”
O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on the holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.