It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26 (NASB 2020)
I do not want to put you on the spot or embarrass you, but do you read the ending first when reading a book? Reading the end of a book first would be a serious breach of protocol for some people. For others, it is about removing the suspense.
We know what transpired before Resurrection Sunday. We observe Good Friday, remembering the price Christ paid to cover our sin. It may be a solemn time, but we are heartened by the anticipation of Sunday morning. Someone once said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”
We may not always consider the time between Christ’s crucifixion and his Resurrection, but that is because we know how the story goes. In some Christian traditions, Holy Saturday is observed, but it is a break between Good Friday and Easter for pastors.
What about the first resurrection morning? It appears there was more apprehension than anticipation. Jesus had warned them, but perhaps it was the shock of all that had happened. We cannot imagine what the disciples might have been thinking while observing the Sabbath.
Nobody can say that anyone approached the tomb on Sunday morning expecting to find it empty. The women were coming to complete the burial preparations. In Luke’s Gospel, it is the announcement by two men in “dazzling apparel,” asking, “why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” They proceeded to remind them of what Jesus had said to them back in Galilee. Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:8 (NIV)
It certainly changes our perspective when we know how things are going to turn out ahead of time. We have heard people say that they would have loved to have been alive in Jesus’ day and among his followers, but Good Friday was not known as Good Friday back then.
The agony of the silence that followed the death of our Lord was expressed well by the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. “The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” Luke 24:20–21 (NIV)
They went on to say that there had been reports of an empty tomb, but their disposition was one of despair. We may speak of the silence between the Crucifixion and The Resurrection, but the silent suffering continued for Cleopas and his friend. It took some time in the presence of Jesus to open their eyes.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Lamentations 3:28–30 (The Message)
On Good Friday, we know The Resurrection is coming, but in the same way that someone who reads the end of the book first misses out on the complete experience, do we miss out on anything? Is it possible to be complacent about The Resurrection? Are we robbed of any valuable lessons?
It is unlikely that we will forget The Resurrection, but there is value in putting ourselves in the place of those disciples. Let us think about the great price that was paid for our salvation. Consider the words of the great hymn: “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
The Resurrection is a historical fact. Nothing will change that but let us put ourselves in the position of those early followers. When they learned that Jesus had risen from the dead, their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and faith rose as well. What sweetness and joy did they find! It is okay to think about those long silent hours, wondering about the future.
I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24 (CEB)
Contemplating death is not usually a priority for young, healthy people. Even as we get older, we do not like to dwell on the subject. But dying is not only inevitable. It is required. Dying is how we are multiplied. We can die and yet be more alive than ever. But we can refuse to die and yet be dead even though we think we are alive.
I treasure the opportunity to preach at funerals. I recognize that it may be the only opportunity for some to hear the gospel message. Aside from when the time we face our mortality, this weekend is an excellent opportunity to pause in the silence of the time in between. Let us come to grips with the thought that there can be no resurrection without death.
As we think about the death of Jesus, let us pause before fast-forwarding to The Resurrection and take inventory of the deaths that we have experienced. Not just physical death, but perhaps the death of our relationships, ministries, or hopes and dreams and place them in the hands of the Resurrected One!
Job is an example of someone who faced the destruction of his hopes and dreams, including his children’s deaths. His wife advised him to “curse God and die.” His friends were not much help either, but in the middle of all his troubles, he declared:
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” Job 19:25–27 (NLT).
Resurrection morning will be here soon. Consider the silence in between to be a gift. Jesus suffered death, but death gave way to life. The resurrection life of Jesus will also be our resurrection life. He is risen! He is risen indeed!