A Day Without Hope
Imagine yourself as one of the apostles for a moment. For the past three years, you have followed a man who you believe to be the Messiah, the great Savior of Israel. You completely uprooted your life, maybe leaving your family or a lucrative career behind, all because you believed there to be something truly special about this traveling preacher.
(Now, in the present day, nearly 2,000 years later, we know that this belief they had was absolutely right. Remember as we continue that they do not have the benefit of hindsight.)
You and your fellow apostles have seen so many amazing signs and wonders from this man. Just this week, you witnessed him enter Jerusalem on a donkey, surrounded by people shouting and praising him. Two nights ago, he broke bread with you and the rest of the apostles, laughing and reclining at the same table. He even washed your feet, an act meant to be done by servants. All signs pointed toward the Kingdom of God being at hand just as the prophets of old foretold.
And then things got out of hand. In a flurry of terrible events, you witness your rabbi getting betrayed, arrested, and dragged off to court. You and your fellow apostles scatter. The next day, after so much uncertainty, you see the rabbi battered, bloody, and bruised, getting hung onto a criminal’s cross. That Kingdom you thought was at hand is now in pieces like Jesus’ garments, torn apart by the Romans guarding the cross.
What do you do now? You devoted your life to following this man and now he is dead. What is next? Do you just go back to your old life? Are the Jewish leaders going to come for you, as one of Jesus’s inner circle next?
Here, you find yourself, scared, confused, and unsure of what to do next. And now, it’s Shabbat (the sabbath day). Just as God rested on the seventh day, you are meant to rest, taking joy in Him. In recent years, Shabbat has had even more meaning as you followed the man who claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath.
Now, however, all that is left adrift as you navigate a roller coaster of negative emotions. You mourn the death of Jesus, and you wonder if He really was the Messiah and if, as He said, He is coming back. You are also angry. Angry at Judas, your friend and fellow apostle, for betraying Jesus. Maybe you heard of Judas’ death, are you mourning his death too, or are you taking the smallest bit of pleasure in his fate? Is there any hope left?
Unfortunately, since it’s Shabbat, there will be no resolution to any of these. Jesus was hastily thrown into a tomb, but the women in your group want to retrieve His body once Shabbat is over.
And so, you wait.
It’s easy, when looking at the story of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, to skip to the end. In fact, the only thing Scripture says happens on the Sabbath after His death is the Pharisees, the religious leaders who strictly enforced the Sabbath time and again, running to Pilate to warn him that Jesus said he would rise on the third day (Matthew 27: 62-66 NIV). Ironically, it seems Jesus’ enemies were the only ones to remember His words claiming He would rise again.
Regardless, the Resurrection is made that much more impactful by the waiting experienced on the Sabbath. Nothing could be done. All that the apostles could do was sit and wrestle with the feeling of emptiness and hopelessness within them, wondering when the door would be blasted in by the Romans here to arrest the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
Maybe you are in a place like this right now. You feel empty, without hope. Whatever the reason, there is a huge hole right in the center of your life, and you have no idea what is going to happen next.
There is hope.
The feeling of hopelessness represented in Holy Saturday is fulfilled in the resurrection story of Easter Sunday. In the same way, this hopelessness felt at the very core of our beings can only be fulfilled through the hope of Jesus Christ.
So don’t lose hope amidst the darkness, because Sunday is coming.