So much is written about the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, the horrors of Good Friday, and the victorious joy of Easter Sunday… Yet Scripture tells us so little about the Saturday of that momentous weekend, when the Son of God Himself was illegally tried, brutally tortured and executed, only to rise gloriously from His tomb on the third day, fulfilling the messianic promises of the Scriptures.
I try to imagine what Jesus’ disciples were doing that day. What was going through their minds?
The second day was the Sabbath, but I cannot imagine these guys went to temple that day. They were no doubt in fear of the Jewish leaders. Fear for their very lives. And, besides, the temple was in need of some repairs that particular Sabbath.
I wonder if the words of Jesus, the lessons of three years of following the Lord, were ringing in their ears. I wonder if Peter could get the sound of that rooster crowing out of his head. Maybe he heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan”.
Things had happened so fast. It hadn’t even been 48 hours since they had sat down for one last meal with Jesus (and a very significant Passover meal at that). He had taught them so much over the years. But the conversation this night was different. More pointed. More direct. In a sense surreal. Jesus was here to overthrow the status quo in Israel and set up a new kingdom. Right?
And now, here He was.
Dead.The King of Kings and Lord of Lords seemingly defeated.
The One Who had turned water into wine.
Healed the sick.
Regenerated the lame.
Gave sight to the blind.
Fed tens of thousands with one child’s small meal.
Calmed the raging storm.
Walked on water.
Escaped the authorities time and again.
Raised Lazarus from the dead after his body had begun to decompose.
And, just the night before, put a guy’s ear back on. Not just any guy, but the servant of one of the Roman soldiers sent to arrest Him in the garden. This after Peter, in one his impetuous and well meaning yet – let’s call it what it was, dumb – acts, drew his sword and lobbed off this slave’s ear in an attempt to save Jesus from a fate He Himself had willingly chosen.
So many miracles. So much promise. And yet, here they were.
The Lord was gone.
They couldn’t see the glory that was a few short hours away. They couldn’t fathom the open tomb, the folded grave cloth, the retuning Jesus, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The disciples had experienced so much unbelievable horror in less than 24 hours. We know Thomas temporarily lost his faith. What about the others? How could all of this have happened? Had Jesus been a fraud? Had He been out of his mind?
Faith is a curious thing. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). As humans, we base reality on the sensible, the tangible. We want evidence. We need proof.
But the truth of the matter is that God defines reality. He is the author of Truth. We believe because the Lord said to. We trust because God, in His infinite grace and love, mercy and power, shows us enough to see He is real and trustworthy, if only we would look with eyes of faith.
On the second day, everything looked hopeless to the disciples. Especially for Judas Iscariot, who came to the realization of what he had done, Who he had done it to, and the impact of his greedy actions. (When the New Testament mentions another Judas, the words “not Iscariot” follow his name, so deep was the disgust associated with the name of Christ’s betrayer).
Without faith, the third day is stripped of all significance. The hope for the risen Christ is the only hope the disciples had on the second day.
Perhaps that hope still lingered deep within them.
The second day was history’s most apparently hopeless yet actually hopeful day. All the disciples could see was the unbelievable horror. But that isn’t where the story ended. Jesus overcame the unimaginable.
He overcame death.
He came back.
And He will again. Just as He promised.
There is no dark too dark for the Lord. There is no circumstance that is insurmountable for God. What our limited minds perceive is not ultimate reality.
God foretold all of this in the Old Testament. Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen. But they couldn’t understand it. They were blinded by their preconceived notions. Despite all they had seen Jesus do and heard Him proclaim, they still struggled with the truth of the situation.
The ways of the Lord are so far above us that we have to take Him on faith. We couldn’t accept His fullness if we tried. We are simply incapable of fully understanding God and His ways.
So have faith in the Lord. Trust in His Word. He has given us evidence aplenty that He is Who He is, and He will do what He says He will do, and we are His beloved children.
Bask in that.
Let it soak into your soul.
And have a blessed Easter.