‘Twas the day before Easter and all through the house…We’ve all known lonely times – times when we seem not to have any friends; times when the world closes in and dark clouds seem more prevalent than normal. Recently I was pondering one such day. No, it wasn’t a day that occurred in my life. I wasn’t even alive on that day. It was a memorable day in my imagination, though. This past Easter weekend I was thinking of what just might have been the loneliest day ever…of any year!
As many do at Easter, I reflected on the tragic events of that Friday long ago. The arrest, trial, conviction, whips, thorns, purple robe, nails, wood, cross, and spear all playing their roles in the dastardly crime. At best the world was executing a kind and wise prophet. At worst…the Messiah, the Son of God. Having died on that Skull Hill tree, my Savior was laid to rest in a newly hewn tomb. A large stone was put in place, sealed, and guarded. The soldiers stationed there were the best the Romans had in Israel. This had to be the end of this talk of insurrection. That “third day promise” of resurrection must never be allowed to happen. It wouldn’t! Not if the government had anything to say about it…
Sunday morning came to shed its light on sleeping guards, a moved stone, folded grave clothes, and an empty burial cave. The victory had come. He is risen! But what about Saturday?
I think the Saturday before Easter, that Passover Day, those hours connecting the horrors of Friday and the exultation of Sunday, just might have been the loneliest day of that year…or any other…for those lost and distressed followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Who were they? How did they spend that Saturday?
Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathea, the burial team, probably went into hiding perhaps thinking they were next on the Sanhedrin’s hit list. They had been so close to eternity. What had gone wrong?
The ladies who watched Jesus breathe His last on the front row near the foot of the cross probably stayed together as a group finding solace in each other’s distress. Mary, the mother of the dead man, may have been taken to John’s Jerusalem home for a time of private mourning.
The apostles were now 11 in number, their ranks thinned by the traitorous act of Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver. Neither Peter nor any of the rest of them even wanted to know what had become of that betrayer. They probably never saw the rope that stretched his neck in that successful suicide. They hid out in the shadows and allies of the darkened Jerusalem streets. Some may have returned to Gethsemane’s Garden on the slopes of the Mount of Olives finding comfort in the place where they had slept while the Master prayed. One by one they straggled back together possibly to the same upper room that had been the setting for one last supper many hours earlier. Wherever they spent that Saturday, no doubt it was with the misery and grief of absolute failure. They had all forsaken Him in that direst of hours.
Fortunately for them and for us, the loneliness of that Saturday gave way to the dawning of a new day. Sunday morning broke gloriously: a message from an angel to grave-visiting ladies in distress who became messengers of hope. A race to see the rolled-away stone only to find neatly folded mummy wraps. A case of mistaken identity in the garden looking for Jesus…and finding Him! Many were the miracle moments of that Easter Sunday. The followers, the family members, in fact the whole world…would never be the same.
No, there may never have been a lonelier day than the Saturday on which God’s Son lay in a cold, dark crypt forsaken by His Father. What about that heavenly Father? I suspect angels steered clear of heaven’s monarch for most of that time. Perhaps God chose to be alone, not trusting His emotions. Resisting the temptation to summon Michael and the angel army to destroy everyone who had stood against Jesus. Whatever His Majesty did that Saturday, He didn’t forget His Son or us. The rescue plan conceived before the cross, before the virgin birth, before the flood, before Eden, before time…that plan for the salvation of mankind had come to fruition. Why? Because… “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It was the best of times…it was the worst of times! It was the loneliest of days…
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