He was gone. The One they pinned their hopes and dreams on, the One they followed tirelessly all over Israel. Dead. Killed by callous, brutal men and an angry mob. Tossed haphazardly into a borrowed grave, next to all the plans and hopes they had for the future.
The day dawned grey and ugly, but none of the Christ-followers saw it. They were heart-stricken, terrified for their own lives, and grieving the loss of their beloved leader. He was their everything. They had left behind their entire lives for Him, but now their hands closed on despair.
It’s easy to look back from the vantage point of the 21st century and deride the lack of faith displayed by the original Christ followers.
But would we do it? Would we follow Him when it meant leaving behind our families, all our earthly possessions, our very careers and livelihood? Would we stake everything on a Man, tie ourselves to His success?
I think we American Christians have gotten very good at believing that if we “just give our lives to the Lord” He will provide for us. “All things work together for good,” right? And the Lord takes care of those He loves.
We have confused our American comfortable lifestyle with our Lord’s promises.
So we look down on those who are struggling, trying to survive. We deride welfare recipients, mock the homeless, eschew poverty. We speak harsh words about less-fortunate Christians, struggling single parents, people who have suffered crushing financial difficulty.
We have forgotten – or perhaps never knew? – the In Between. The day that Christ was dead.
Looking back on His death from where we are in time today, we imagine the horror of the cross. The darkness and evil of that day covers us like a black cape at a Good Friday service, brushes our souls with the awe and terror of it. But we skip quickly ahead to Sunday morning, after dwelling a little on the deep mystery of the atonement. We give no consideration to the grey Saturday Sabbath, completely devoid of hope and beauty.
What if you didn’t know He rose again?
Would you believe He had deserted you? Left you to the harsh coldness of an evil world? The rosy vision of a future Christ sitting on a throne reigning over the whole world while you worked to serve Him – or perhaps sat next to Him! – has dissolved into ashes and the brutal reality of death. His followers didn’t feel like Jesus was caring for them that day. He was gone, and they were alone.
Have you been there? Sitting in the darkness of the early morning, wondering if life is worth living? Thinking He has deserted you forever? Holding the ashes of a beautiful dream, gone forever beyond your reach? All the love and ministry that you have poured into the lives of others, in an empty heap beside you?
From my 21st century vantage point, I need to whisper something in your ear. This is the In Between. He is dead, yes. He is gone beyond your reach, yes.
Your dreams and visions, goals and plans, may never have new life. BUT HE WILL.
Tomorrow will dawn with a new truth, a new reality. And death cannot hold Him.
His truth will not look at all like those cherished visions of yours.
His truth is better. Truer, stronger, deeper.
He would never desert you, never leave you comfortless. You are alone today, suffering in the pain of loss, grieving what is gone. But know that tomorrow, life as you know it will change forever. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.