75 comments
  1. hollyet said:

    thanks

  2. Shelley said:

    Thank you. Loved seeing you guys in Cleveland, OH on the tour… amazing.

  3. Marshall said:

    This is awesome! It’d be great to see more of these 😉

  4. Thank you for passionately laboring over and thinking through the content of this song. The Gospel is vividly depicted with careful rhetorical attention given to the songs communication of the theology of the cross. Thank you for not being so concerned with radio play, or mass appeal that you water down content or creativity.

  5. Kyle said:

    Incredible bro. God has gifted you in speaking of such deep heavy truths with such beautiful language that paints such vivid pictures and moves the spirit. Love ya man…keep it up!

  6. Kim said:

    Nothing to say but, “beautiful” really appreciate the message with the verses. Thank you!

  7. Liam said:

    Been listening to this song in particular the last few weeks, and mulling over a lot of these themes….such depth to the song, really is outstanding. Thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings out in terms of what’s behind it, much appreciated.

  8. Allen said:

    Thanks for this, John Mark. I have been engaged by this song many times since hearing it a year ago for an Easter service. I l

  9. Allen said:

    Thanks for this, John Mark. I have been engaged by this song many times since hearing it at an Easter service a year ago. I am impressed by your poeticism and ability to slam images into my mind. Jesus and his storytelling have done you well!

  10. Wicked…thx for doing this. We are doing this song for Easter at Mosaic…so good.

  11. Jeff Q said:

    Thanks for posting this. A lot of artists don’t like to explain their songs for fear that they lose some meaning, but this enhances it.

  12. Max Teixeira Junior said:

    I’m glad to see the sincerity of a Christian songwriter, explaining in a simple way out as the verses of a song as sincere and profound as that! This is the way!

  13. Aaron Hill said:

    Fantastic. This song really resonated with me becuase of the line “in deperate places he paid our wages.” To me, “desperate places” describes a pitched battle between Jesus and satan between death and ressurection. He fought for us. It’s a beutiful line that caught me.

  14. Adam said:

    Thanks so much John! I was planning on using this song and lyrics in my class Sunday morning on Easter and walking them through the scriptures with it. Cannot wait now that I have this resource as well. Keep up the great work. Excited to share this with my young adult class.

  15. Chad said:

    This is the song that originally blew me away when I discovered your music. I heard Crowder’s cover of HHL and thought it was his song (but I’m not a big Crowder fan, so I never really dug into it). I saw a youtube clip of some little kid singing your original version of HHL in the car with his dad, and I really liked it, so I dug some more. The first clip I pulled up was the version of “Death” you posted above and it moved me, deeply. It was like “THIS is what I’ve been looking for!”. It’s still one of my favorites and I can listen to it anytime.

    Thanks a ton for posting this. I had a pretty good understanding of most of the song, but this is very helpful with clarifying some of those mystery spots. One thing I always thought of on the “on Friday a thief” line was not only was Jesus murdered as a thief, but God the Father actually looked upon His Son as a thief… and a murderer, rapist, and all other vile sins we commit, all on our behalf.

    Hopefully you decide to do this some more… perhaps “Daylight” or “Sheet of Night”… or whatever. 😉

    Love ya dude…

    • Chad said:

      I ran across this quote from one of the earliest recorded Easter sermons:

      He who hung the earth [in its place] is fixed there, he who made all things fast is made fast upon the tree, the Master has been insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been slain by an Israelitish hand. O strange murder, strange crime! The Master has been treated in unseemly fashion, his body naked, and not even deemed worthy of a covering, that [his nakedness] might not be seen. Therefore the lights [of heaven] turned away, and the day darkened, that it might hide him who was stripped upon the cross. (Melito or Sardis, Homily on the Passion, 96)

  16. Mark said:

    Thank you! This has been my favorite song on The Medicine, and to have a line by line explanation of what it means to you is beautiful. Love it!

  17. Brenda Madsen said:

    John Mark,

    Thank you for tackling the weight of this subject manner and birthing this song.
    I resonate with it, and I sat with it yesterday, contemplating the events we remember and celebrate this week.
    We are singing it for our Resurrection services. Can’t wait.
    Thank you, and keep going.

  18. keith said:

    Thanks for this! I, too, would love to hear more. For example, I’ve been wondering what the promenade is. It’s in a couple of your songs.

  19. Brad said:

    Thanks John for doing this. Ever since I saw you were going to be doing this earlier this week on your facebook, I have been eagerly waiting for it. This is by far my favorite song you do. I saw you in Greenville a few weeks ago and this song was just amazing live as it was in the video you posted above. The chorus of this song is HANDS DOWN one of the most poetic, picture painting, storytelling choruses I have ever heard. Seriously.. How can you beat the line “On Friday a Thief, On Sunday a King.” One of the lines that also really spoke to me the first time I heard it was “The debt of blood they owed was rent when the day rolled anew” It just says how much changed with the death of Jesus on that cross.

    I cannot imagine how far you deep you had to dig for this song, but thank you for your obedience in writing it. It is one of my favorites and is one of those songs I can listen to over and over and never get tired of it.

    By the way, I love the way your songs come across in these live videos. I hope you do more. Watching others worship with you during these videos is just amazing and has taught me what true worship should be about.

  20. It’s not very often the listener gets this kind of “inside hearing” of a song. Thank you so much for adding layers to what I already loved!

  21. Josh said:

    JMM
    Thanks for posting this. I’m a worship leader and am sharing this song with my church Friday night for Good Friday service along with a quick testimomy of what God has been doing in my life through this song. Your words have helped me to develop a deeper and richer understanding of what it means to be a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)…not a better creation, but a new one through the laying of death in the grave for good. This allows me the freedom to walk in the victory and righteousness of Christ rather than continuously try on my own power, forming my own subtle Law. It’s by being covered by His blood and righteousness that I am saved…replaced. Thanks for the beautiful words and great music!

  22. Eli said:

    JMM:
    I’m listening to the song right now. I can’t help but tear up and cry of gratitude. God has truly blessed me through your deep, biblical songs. I am incredibly honored to be part of the same family as you…brother in Christ.
    God Bless.

  23. I’m in a coffee shop reading this post & the Jesse James song just came on the speakers! I’ve never heard it before in my life, except right as I’m reading about it! Very cool!
    Also, we debuted this song at our church last Sunday and will sing it again on Easter Sunday! It’s fantastic, thanks for writing, recording and exegeting it for us!

  24. Josiah said:

    Thanks so much, John, for posting this! It is one of my favourite songs on “The Medicine,” along with “Skeleton Bones.” I have actually used this song for worship with my Bible study, and absolutely love the depth that it has. Too many “Easter” songs don’t capture the depth of what Jesus has done.
    Keep it up, we’re looking forward to many great songs in the future! All the glory to God!

  25. Billy Harlan said:

    Thanks for posting this. It means a lot to me, and many others I’m sure, that you took time to do this. I love seeing all of the scripture references and seeing what God revealed to you and how he revealed it. It is a great song with great implications. Blessings on you and your family.

  26. Emily Furda said:

    Thanks for the commentary. I guess being the daughter of an english teacher, I loved the rich lyrics already. They’re like a classic piece of literature that make you think and feel, not just your heart & mind behind them, but also God’s. Ultimately they change my mindset & expands my grasp of Christ. I think all music should change you somehow, even just a bit, otherwise it’s not worth my time. Hearing how carefully you crafted every line makes me appreciate it even more. BTW you should thank your sister in law Molly, she tweeted about The Medicine when it came out on iTunes & that’s how I found it. I’m so glad I did! I wouldn’t have if she hadn’t mentioned it.

  27. Kellie said:

    Thank you for being so honest John Mark. I look forward to seeing more of this! You are such a blessing to me, God works through you in a way that is so fresh (for lack of a better word).

  28. Doug said:

    Dude. So. Good.

  29. dude, this song has ministered to me many times. In the however long it’s been since i heard it, “Death in his grave” has inspired a poem and a song from me. Keep it coming.

  30. Benjamin Eaves said:

    Thank you so much. I love hearing the artists thoughts and desires in birthing their art. This song is so powerful and my favorite on the album. Really enjoyed the show in Greenville, SC! You and your whole band are phenomenal and original!

  31. jeff said:

    I so much appreciate this thoughtful explanation. I’d been a little apprehensive to introduce this one because I want to always be authentic in communicating the heart behind our worship. This allows me to do just that with a fantastic dedication to our God. Again, thank for taking the time.

  32. Robbie Docherty said:

    Every once in a while someone inspired by the Holy Spirit is able to put into words what many of us feel but don’t understand how to say, this song is that for me. It brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I’ve spent so much time worshipping Jesus using these words. Thank you!

  33. Thank John!
    I have loved this song for awhile….just changed my set to fit it in for the service I lead worship in. God is so good!

  34. Hey John. I truly am amazed with the gift God has given you in songwriting and the anointing you are walking in with it.

    I thank you for taking the time to explain what you are trying to convey through this song. Being a Worship Pastor & Song Writer myself I know how frustrating it can be sometimes getting asked the same questions over and over when the answer should be pretty clear.

    One time your father visited our church and said you would most likely love to come visit. Lets make it happen. We’ll party and grow beards.

  35. If He tasted death for everyone and has conquered death, then isn’t He the Savior of all mankind indeed?!

  36. dennarr said:

    Lyrical masterpiece…thank you!

    Your comments on people’s “issues” with phrasing is spot on. Even beyond the Psalms, we read about people’s honest and seemingly colloquial exchanges with God. That is intimate worship – the kind that Jesus talked about and said He desires.

    Amen!

  37. Tom said:

    Love the commentary. As an aspiring author I totally love reading the thoughts behind an artist’s creations. So fascinating and enlightening and inspiring. Such a fitting song for this Easter season as well. Much love!

  38. Paul said:

    i feel it important to point out that the woody guthrie song mentioned and quoted is should actually be “Jesus Chris” not “jesse james” both are great however! just a heads up JMM! http://youtu.be/EDS00Pnhkqk

  39. Daniel said:

    Awesome post. Thank you for your depth in songwriting. It really is refreshing. And I just love seeing video of people worshipping. It brings tears to my eyes.

  40. Dave Howard said:

    Thanks. His victory has been expressed so magnificently!

  41. Mindy said:

    Fantastic. Beautiful song. May God continue to bless the (creative) work of your hands.

  42. Justin I. said:

    Dear John,

    Thank you for your song “Death In His Grave.” What a beautiful testament to God’s faithful and unending love for us. Also, your commentary is great!! It’s funny because I am playing this song for Easter service and I was curious about about some of the lyrics and their meanings. For the lines “He paid our wages/ One time once and for all” I cannot help but think of 1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ died for sin once and for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…” (NIV 1984) Thanks again. God bless and Happy Easter. He is risen!

  43. Lauren Soini said:

    Beautiful from beginning to end! I love how you have to think about the words…it’s like reading KJV, so much meaning

    “Plus slain rhymes with grave, which is important.”
    ❤ it! lol

  44. Morgan said:

    I now understand in a greater way why I like this song soooo much…. Because it’s based in truth and declares in lyric and rhyme the work He finished on the cross, by His death, His resurrection and ultimately His ascension and He is so worthy of our praises!

  45. t.a. said:

    Impressive.

    Also, appreciated.

  46. Thanks for setting such an example. What a beautiful song for a Beautiful Savior.

  47. andy_m said:

    Our church sang this for Good Friday, and I can’t wait to shout it for Resurrection Sunday.

  48. Nick McCosker said:

    This is great. Would love to see one for ten thousand. I Haven’t quite got my head around that one yet.

  49. Ben Nicholson said:

    John,
    I saw you in cincinnati. That night when I got home and went to bed I had a dream… In the dream you were playing in a packed mega-church and it was full of high-school to college aged kids. They were worshipping their asses off. To the church’s leadership they were amazing at what the kids were doing in the concert vs what they did on a normal sunday. I walked up to you and told you “your voice is a weapon.” I fell over in the power of the Holy Spirit.
    For me I say what you are doing in a new light. I have seen how your music is bringing gospel or worship music to my non-believer friends. They love it. But what I saw in the dream was something I had never considered which was that you are “showing the house, THE HOUSE” from the outside the Lord is using you to restore worship to the establishment. Rock on.

  50. Adrian G said:

    Love this song. I totally connected to the lyrics with the same understanding you wrote here. God has given you such an amazing gift of lyracy. Oh and CARBON RIBS — I cry/weep everytime I listen to it and your explanation behind that song is just as amazing!!!!

  51. joshi said:

    john,

    wouldn’t it be then more pertinent to say that Christ has defeated hell? wouldn’t that be more accurate? his life paid the price in full. isn’t that what the gospel is saying?

    Love the song though. just wondering is all. maybe i’m misunderstanding the explanation. would love to have you maybe further explain that line, cause its something i’ve been wrestling with …

    thanks

  52. Andy said:

    To clarify, Jesus is called the first born of the dead in Revelation 1:5, not Revelation 5. Not sure if that was clarified yet or not.

  53. John Mark,
    I love your songwriting and recordings! I got to see one of your concerts in Cleveland at the Beachland Ballroom last year. It was an amazing worship experience! I still have the recording on my phone of the whole room singing Murdered Son after you and the band left the stage. Love it! One of my favorite worship times from last year.

    I’m the worship and creative arts pastor at a church plant in Cleveland. We are a church for people who hate going to church and as such, we try and craft our worship experiences so that anyone can come in and connect with God, even if they don’t know the stories from the Bible. If there are songs with references to things from the Bible that people wouldn’t know, we try and set some of that up as we introduce the song, which is a great way for people to learn the story of God. How He Loves is a song that we’ve done alot and that people connect with.

    I don’t know if I have a real question here, but I am wrestling with doing Death In His Grave and Dress Us Up in our context. I love both of those songs and I love your writing here about Death In His Grave, but feel like there is so much to explain for this song (Death In His Grave) so that people will understand what they are singing as they worship that it becomes too cumbersome.

    As I wrestle with this, I wondered if you would share how you approached thinking about people who don’t know the stories and imagery from your songs as you lead people in worship.

    Thinking about the worship expressions in the Old Testament, people knew the stories so well – they did such a great job of passing those stories along to each other and incorporating them into their worship. Their worship was a celebration and re-telling of what God has done and it is so hard to capture that in our corporate worship today. We’ve got to do a much better job at this and that is why I wrestle with doing some of your songs that do a great job of incorporating everyday, poetic, and theological language. Your songs capture theology in a poetic way, but how do we help the people understand it in the context of 30 minutes of worshiping through music? I struggle with how to make each week’s service a celebration of what God has done in our own lives, in the life of our local church, and throughout history.

    Writing about my Murdered Son experience made me go back and listen to that whole song and I love it as a way to celebrate and introduce people to the whole story of Jesus. Can’t say enough how much I am moved and appreciate your songwriting!

    Thanks for advancing the Kingdom!
    –james

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