Grief. Sorrow. Troubled.
These words are commonly used to describe the day Christians commemorate as “Good Friday”. A day full of pain, loss, uncertainty and fear.
But for many, for various reasons, these are words that have crept in to the everyday the past month or so.
We so quickly want to move onto the Sunday Resurrection (that we all know is coming this side of history), the joyful celebration, the reuniting, the promises fulfilled. We remember this day of trouble and grief, but just long enough to say “But…Sunday is coming!” As we should. Sunday is the day of new life, promises kept, hope for more, something greater!! But this year, maybe more than any others, I think as hard as it is for us to linger in the weight of the grief, I think we should.
Linger… in the brutal, unjust death of another human. Linger… in the hopelessness of those that gave up everything to follow Him. Linger… in the loss of His mother. Linger… in the confusion of the centurion. Linger… in His felt separation from His loving Father, God. Linger.
Luke describes Jesus being in “agony” as He prayed earnestly in the garden just before the trauma began. The word “agony” means “to struggle for victory” in Greek and this is the only place in the New Testament that it’s used (22:44). Some of us may feel like we have enough injustice, hopelessness, loss, confusion for ourselves in this moment, pilled up from the past several weeks. But as we linger and grieve the loss this day and the next, sharing the the suffering of the cross as we “struggle for victory”, when Sunday does come (And it WILL!) we will be reminded that even in those dark sorrowful places that Jesus does in fact keep his promises and that there is something greater on the other side of this moment!
I can’t help but to try and put myself in the shoes of the followers of Jesus on this day over 2,000 years ago. They had given up vocation, friends, family, a predictable life, a “normal” life. They had given it all up to whole heartedly follow Jesus into the unknown, into the often unpopular. This had to require great trust and great love. Jesus spent His days in intimate relationship with the followers teaching, admonishing, demonstrating, and loving.
Then, the unthinkable happened, even though Jesus had warned them they didn’t understand, that He would be gone, in an instant!
I can’t help but think about how on the day after Jesus’ death, His disciples must be mulling over and recalling every word Jesus had spoken as they were locked in their homes. It was just 2 days earlier that they heard His voice so it didn’t take much to remember the sound of it. But so many of the words just didn’t make sense, especially now, He was gone, it was over.
The fear, the confusion, the lost hope of promises fulfilled.
He said, “I will leave and come back again” (Jn 14:3). But now, how?
He said, “I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). But now, where?
He said, “Be brave and full of peace, because He had overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). But now, how?
He said, “Don’t worry, I am taking care of you” (Mt 6:31-33). But now, how?
He said, “I am life” (Jn 11:25). But now, you’re dead?
How many of these promises are we doubting now in this season that feels like one long “Silent Saturday”, as it seems the whole world has stopped.
And yet these promises never stopped being True for His followers when Jesus was seemingly “gone”, so why would they stop being true for us now?
In reality life is one long Saturday as we live between the first and second resurrection, the first being when Jesus walked out of the tomb and the second will be when WE are raised to new life with no more mourning and no more pain and no more crying.
But for now, we mourn, we grieve and we remind ourselves of His PROMISES because He was faithful then and He is faithful now. He was close then and He is close now.
And that it’s just after the darkest dark that the Son rises!
I know none of this is a new, just simply my own ponderings on this Easter afternoon.
It’s not hard to find some stark similarities in Easter 2020 and the very first Easter.
John says the “doors were locked” and the people were in “fear.”
Then all of a sudden, one verse later, John 20:20 says they were “glad”?
What happened to cause this change from fear to gladness? Jesus happened!
As they were gathered together Jesus showed up and spoke peace over them and in an instant they were glad.
Jesus’ followers received peace through His presence, through His wounds, through His words, and through His Spirit.
And Jesus is offering these things to us today.
Psalms 139:7 reminder us that there is nowhere we can go away from His presence.
1 Peter 4:13 promises that if we share in His sufferings we will share in His glory.
Matthew 7:24 says that His words are like a rock to build our life on.
And His Spirit…mmmm…John 20:22 says that Jesus “breathed” on them (that part might be a little different than Easter 2020, ain’t nobody breathing on anybody). But in all seriousness the word “breath” here is only used once in the whole New Testament and it is the word that the Septuagint translators of used in Genesis 2:7 when God first breathed into Adam. It was God’s breath that brought Adam to life and in the same way Jesus was empowering them to a new life with His Spirit IN them!
Then Jesus speaks peace to them again and sends them out. Out beyond the wall they were hiding behind, out beyond the fears they were paralyzed by. Jesus’ peace was enough for them in the gathering (v.19) and in the scattering (v.21), in the staying and in the going. It’s also interesting to note, the Greek word translated “peace” is thought to be from the root word meaning “to join”. Peace comes from joining with Jesus.
Today Jesus is offering us His presence, His wounds, His words, and His Spirit and in all these things you will find Him to be ENOUGH! (Jer. 29:13, see Cover Photo on “matsa”).