The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was the worst day of Jesus’ disciples’ lives. Though Jesus had told them repeatedly that he would go to Jerusalem and die and then he would rise again, on Saturday they didn’t comprehend what he meant.
They couldn’t grasp it yet. And now, he was gone.
All their plans for an earthly kingdom and glory had just been shattered. Everything they had hoped for had been destroyed. This faith-shaking, doubting-God experience had been accompanied by a violent assault to their senses as they watched their best and dearest friend be physically torn apart.
The pageantry that surrounds our celebration of this holy week culminating in resurrection Sunday mystifies unbelievers. To them we seem overwrought. Why all the emotion about this historical event?
A friend of mine went to Calcutta. A dutiful tourist, he took a high-end camera, looking forward to great photos to commemorate his trip. Then he visited the infamous Calcutta slums. When he witnessed the human degradation, the appalling circumstances suffered by precious humanity who were all made in the likeness of God, he packed his camera away. Not one photo was taken of this part of his journey.
The crucifixion was such an event. Even pagan writers refused to describe it in much detail. They averted their eyes. Crucifixion stripped human beings of their humanity, reducing them to the most humiliating condition as they gasped and struggled for breath and lost control of their bodily functions. In Jesus’ case, this happened after he’d been beaten and had lost copious amounts of blood. While he suffered, people mocked, spit on him, and tore out his beard. Then his corpse was speared.
Now imagine watching this horrific murder happen to your best friend, the kindest person you’ve ever met, one who loves and heals and sees right into your heart, and seeing you completely, who loves you anyway. This friend understands you entirely and fully invests himself in you, gently encouraging you when you’re down and praising when you do right.
Imagine this friend is the most exemplary human being you will ever encounter, God incarnate walking among us. His eyes twinkle when he laughs, and his laughter is always kind. He exudes purity, holiness, and goodness. Every single time he is confronted with a moral dilemma, he knows exactly what to do and carries it out with surprising wisdom, humility, and gentleness.
This is Jesus. He is our dearest friend. These things were done to him. His blood is precious. That he would undergo these things is sacred. In our hearts, we treasure him and his sacrifice.
On this weekend, we pause to remember. He willingly underwent this life and this suffering to pay for our sins. He invites all people to place their faith in him, to turn from their sins, to love him, and to follow him. Following him is the most transformative, healing, and dearest communion a human can ever know.
In solidarity with our first-century brother and sister believers, we empathize with the agony they felt as they witnessed the appalling. But we know the rest of the story. We know Easter is tomorrow. We know Christ Jesus rose in victory over death.
He died and rose for us. Doing so, he changed everything. Thank you, precious Savior.