The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is not mentioned in the Bible. We have to speculate about what the Disciples and the world were doing between the day of judgments and punishments, and the day of wonder and power. We might be shocked at how similar our current situation is.
We know the Sabbath began at sundown on Friday. The Jews, having managed to put away the threat which grew in momentum and followers for three years, went on to celebrate the Passover. The imagery of the lamb slain so they and their children could live was lost on them.
The Disciples, however, didn’t join in the celebration. Chances are they were doing the same thing on Saturday as they were found doing on Sunday and Monday. Except for Judas who went out committed suicide, overtaken by his grief and guilt.
What were the eleven closest followers of Jesus doing? Planning an Easter egg hunt? Pressing new suits and tying fancy neckwear for the special day on Sunday?
No, the Disciples were locked in a house. They were hoping the Jewish leaders and Romans wouldn’t get the bright idea of rounding up the rest of Jesus’ gang to make sure the whole Jesus thing was done with. Having witnessed or heard about the torture of the cross, they feared the same fate.
Feeling the Loss
As a pastor, Good Friday was one of my most formal services. The goal was treat the death of Jesus kind of like a funeral. Where we look for the joy and excitement of resurrection on Easter, I wanted to instill a sense of loss.
The service was later than most, at 3:00 p.m., just around the time Jesus would have died. Churchgoers would not have the whole day to forget about the tragedy of their best friend’s death.
After a forty-five minute service, brought low and sad for ultimate impact, they would just go home and hopefully take some time to reflect on what Jesus’ sacrifice really meant.
Remember, I’m not some kind of religious sadist. I just wanted people to feel, for at least an evening or a day, the power of Jesus’ death. It was about experiencing the silence, the separation from the world which hated Jesus, and therefore will choose to hate us because we follow Him.
This year we don’t have to work as hard to put ourselves in the shoes of the remaining Disciples between the cross and the resurrection. Thanks to a nasty little virus, so many of us have found ourselves shut in at home for a while now.
Depending on what part of the world we live in, it could have been weeks or months since we spent any length of time outside of the place we call home. And many of our homes are at over capacity, all day, every day.
Some spend their days trying to keep their minds off of the reason they are locked in. Others are consumed by fear and wondering what will happen next. Most of us are trying to make the best of it, but it is getting a bit old.
And what about that big Easter Sunday service we usually look forward to? We already missed out on Hosannas and palm branches last week for the celebration of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem (a.k.a Palm Sunday).
Now there won’t be any fancy outfits or egg hunts, no Passion productions or choirs. We haven’t lost Jesus to the cross, but we have lost meeting as the church, together in body as well as spirit. The loss will be felt this weekend especially. (Thankfully many are encouraged by an increased reach through the tools embraced in this time.)
Don’t be Troubled
There’s a tough thing to do right now. “Troubled” is maybe the most universal feeling in our lives right now, and we all have it. But Jesus said it to His disciples during the Last Supper.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”John14:1, ESV
I am certain this verse is being shared to so many around the world during this COVID-19 crisis. We do not know what the future holds, what this virus will do to our cities, nations or world. And there are a lot of possibilities based on what the Bible spells out for the end of days.
The words of Paul are equally powerful for us today:
We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.2 Corinthians 4:8–9, NCV
The eleven heartbroken followers of Jesus only had a hole of loss and despair to look into because they didn’t understand the words of Jesus before His death.
We have hope because of what is coming on Easter Sunday. We have the promise of life, whether we continue on this planet or we pass through the veil of death. We have a King who conquered death and the grave. And He has promised that the life He now lives, we will also live.
You have probably had your fill of being locked in the house. Governments are making it sound like it won’t be over any time soon. But don’t be troubled.
Jesus is not dead. The world may, in fact, be falling apart; it is destined to do so. But we don’t live in the fear and despair of Good Friday’s loss. We live in the life and power of Resurrection Sunday.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him.Romans 6:8–9, CSB