Huddled in fear. Hiding in secret.
Their lives turned upside down.
The Passover meal we’d just shared was so different from the other ones we had shared together. The intensity and fullness of every moment was pregnant with meaning and vast, unmistakable love.
The hymns we sang, the way we had prayed together, the way Jesus had prayed so intimately, out loud, in front of us…, it was as if we were in the throne room of Yahweh Himself. One could scarcely breathe it was so beautiful!
As incredible as our time together had been, the limits of our emotional and physical capacities failed us as we moved to Gethsemane to pray. It was late, the meal filling our bellies, the sweetness of being with Jesus wrapped us up, and our eyelids grew heavy despite how Jesus had urged us to stay awake and pray with Him.
Jolting awake to the stomp of soldier’s feet and rustling branches, we, the 11 disciples had peered through the leaves, watching in horror as we saw Judas betray our Lord. Peter had sprung into action, hacking away at a soldier’s ear to defend Jesus, but, astonishingly, Jesus had rebuked Peter!
With an ever-clarifying understanding, we realized this wasn’t like all the other run-ins with the Pharisees. This wasn’t like the countless time the crowds had threatening to stone Him or push Jesus over a cliff, and He had walked away or moved into a safer political region. There was something about this time that was ripe, full, and Jesus wasn’t backing down. He was handing Himself over.
In the hours that followed, every fear became reality.
Jesus was flogged.
Peter denied even knowing Jesus.
The murderer Barabbas was released from prison, and Jesus….
Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion.
Most of us hid, or stood at a distance, as Jesus hung outside Jerusalem, fastened to a wooden cross by Roman nails, naked and alone. Even Father God abandoned Him. Only John was bold enough to stand at the foot of Christ’s cross, comforting Mother Mary in the midst of unspeakable agony as a sword pierced her own heart emotionally.
Despite our distance, we could hear Jesus painfully cry out with all of His strength, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit”, and then breathed His last.
Jesus was dead.
And our world was in shambles.
Some of us responded in anger, wanting to cut off our own ears as Peter had done to the soldier just hours ago, wishing we could somehow be immune to the reality of death.
Fear was everywhere.
Would soldiers be shoving down the door to this little Upper Room to crucify us next?
We didn’t dare leave. Besides, where would we go?
Life itself had lost its meaning.
If the Pharisees weren’t out to plot against us next, we were most certainly the laughingstock of all Galilee and Judea. We had walked every road, stayed at every town and village in the area, been with Jesus as He had healed the masses, cast out demons, and preached love as He lived love.
But now, He was gone, swallowed up by Death.
And we were alone.
Maybe in a few weeks or months when the buzz of His death had subsided, they would be able to get back to life. Yet, even so, fishing boats and tax ledgers no longer had the same appeal they did a few years ago.
The women cared for us, though their hands shook and their faces were etched with tear stains.
Our grief was shared by many, but that fact didn’t lessen the weightiness that Life itself had died. We were as dead men too, our hearts having died with Him, so great was our grief.
Jesus had died on Friday, just as the Sabbath hour was nearing.
No one could do any work until Sunday morning.
Little did we know,
the work of redemption was being done in full for us
when we could do nothing for ourselves;
held back by the very Law God Himself had lovingly put in place!
The women, unbeknownst to us, had the wherewithal to follow Joseph of Arimathea to see where Jesus was buried. Despite their sadness, they worked together preparing spices to embalm His body as the last light was fading from the sky and Sabbath was being ushered in.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
“Oh Lord, God!” our hearts cried.
Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, lay in a borrowed tomb, lifeless.
As dusk settled in on Saturday, Sabbath ended, and tomorrow would be the 3rd day since Christ’s death. Time was moving steadily forward, despite their overwhelming sense of loss and despair.
Good Friday had come and gone, but Sunday was coming.
It was Saturday night, but Sunday was coming.
The day the triune Godhead had been anticipating since before the dawn of time,
even before the Eve of Sin.
When Life would defeat Death!
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