If the crucifixion broke the disciples hearts; the resurrection changed their lives. Friday was gloom, disappointment, shock, defeat and the end of a dream for the disciples as they watch Jesus being taken down off the cross and prepared for burial. The tomb was a shallow reminder that their faith was crushed and broken along with Jesus’ body on Calvary’s cross.
When the stone was rolled across the face of the tomb they stood dumbfounded, confused and in shock at such a twist of events. Was this not the Messiah? Had they spent the last three years following a lie? Maybe, just maybe they had in their enthusiasm allowed themselves to be duped into seeing more in this man Jesus than was really there.
But there were the miracles and the healings. Then there was the night on the Sea of Galilee when He came walking to them across the waters and stilled the storm. How could they forget the raising of Lazarus from the dead; was that just an illusion? And sitting in silence eating their bread their minds must have drifted back to how easily Jesus had fed five thousand men with just a few fish and a handful of loaves.
How could this man whom they loved so much and had believed in possibly be dead? He was going to set up the Kingdom of God on Earth and usher in the age of prosperity and rule the nations—wasn’t He?
The Saturday after the crucifixion was probably the longest day of their lives as they sat and tried to piece together the events of what had really happened. There were hints, especially towards the end that He was going to die, but they hadn’t comprehended what He was telling them.
And what did He mean when He said, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life,” Matthew 16:21.
They hadn’t really comprehended the seriousness or the sincerity of what Jesus was telling them. Peter had even rebuked Him for saying such a disheartening thing. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Matthew 16:22
But it had happened and now they had to figure out what would happen to them. Would they be hunted down by the religious leaders and the Roman government and killed as well? Would there be a place for them back in the Synagogues? After all they had burned a great many bridges during their years of following Jesus. Then there was the embarrassment of facing families and friends and having to admit that the last three years of their lives in which they gave up everything to follow Jesus had been a bust.
Saturday night, as they tried to rest, I imagine their heads never stopped collectively spinning as they rehashed the events of the last few days over and over in their minds. I can imagine Thomas getting up in the night and making his way to the courtyard and letting the night air cool his thoughts and wondering, as the Sun began to come up over the roofs of the city, what this day would behold for the disciples.
As day broke hot and sunny as usual over the city of Jerusalem, the Disciples awoke out of their troubled and broken sleep to face their second day without Jesus. While they stumbled around washing up and searching out their breakfast, Mary had long slipped away and made her way in the darkness of the night to the tomb of Jesus.
But upon arriving at the tomb her heart was given a new jolt, for the Roman guards were no where to be seen, the stone was rolled away from in front of the tomb, the royal seal was broken and the tomb was empty.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.” John 20:1-10
Mary, Peter and John still didn’t understand that today, Easter Sunday, would change everything. This would become, along with the crucifixion, the most important event in the history of the world. They couldn’t deny the tomb was empty but they had no explanation whatsoever as to why except believing that the authorities during the night had removed the body and taken it somewhere else.
While the Disciples are debating and mulling over the new twist in the life and death of Jesus, Mary remains at the tomb and she is rewarded for her faithfulness.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 “They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’
‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).
17 Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.’” John 20:11-18
Mary (Ruth Dunfield from Times Like This)
Friday was without doubt the darkest day in the history of mankind and yet if the disciples could have understood even a little of what was going on it would have been the brightest of days because the God of the Universe was dying to give them life.
Sunday cried out to the world “the Savior lives” and because of this all who believe in His name shall have eternal life. The stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty and our lives are made new.
* Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…