"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." - C. S. Lewis

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Day in the Middle

Sometimes I wonder about the silence of Scripture.  I mean, what happened after the wedding in Cana where Jesus' first recorded miracle occurred - did the bride and groom ever know what had happened behind the scenes?  Did Jonah ever come to terms with God's mercy on Nineveh?  What about Naaman's servant girl after he was healed - and Naaman?  How did their lives change after the miraculous touched their world?

How about this one: What happened the day after Christ's crucifixion?

All four Gospel accounts give details of the grievous events of Good Friday and then focus on the triumph of Sunday morning.  They all fall strangely silent about the day in the middle: What was it like the day after Jesus died?

We are not given many clues.  The chief priests and Pharisees, who had long berated Jesus for "working" on the Sabbath, took some time that Sabbath day to stand before Pilate and request a guard on Jesus' tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).  In contrast, Luke tells us that those who buried Jesus and cared for Him "...rested according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56b).

Imagine the arrogant pomp of the Pharisees on that first Sabbath without the One who angered them so much.  What Torah text did they choose to read in the synagogue when they knew He would not be there to set them straight?  What about Nicodemus?  Joseph of Arimathea?

What was Pilate feeling that day - or Herod?  Didn't they feel the ground shake on Friday afternoon?  Didn't they notice the eerie, unnatural darkness?  The day after the Son of God died...were they still thinking about their role in His death?

What about the violent crowd?  Did they attend the synagogue that Sabbath?  Did they feel they had ousted a heretic or betrayed the only One who welcome them as they were?  Didn't they remember the lunch that fed 5,000?  The healings?  The teachings?  As they entered the synagogue that Saturday, I wonder if they felt like everything was back to normal.  Did they miss the presence of the One who had stirred up their traditions - but brought power with Him?  Did they regret the previous night?

What must have been whirling around and around in the minds and hearts of Jesus' disciples that day.  How they must have replayed in their mind what He had done and what He had said, and how they must have questioned everything they had believed about the Messiah.

We can imagine not only the grief, but the guilt they felt at abandoning Him.   Peter must have agonized over his denials before the rooster crowed.  How all of them must have felt despair, fear, loneliness, shock.

The disciples must have felt abandoned.  They were confused.  All they had learned and lived for had fallen apart in less than twenty-four hours.  The reason for their hope, their faith, and their very lives - gone?
But not for long.
When we feel the contradictions of being an eternal soul in a dying world, when we know we are children of light but the darkness remembers our name, when we believe God has a plan, but we just don't see how it could work out alright...we aren't the first to feel that way.

Today, by grace, we know something the disciples didn't yet understand as they huddled in fear with questions racing through their minds.  We know the story isn't over yet.

Early the next morning, everything changed!

"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”"
Acts 1:9-11

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