23 April 2011

Worst day, ever

by Dan Phillips

The irony of the phrase "Good Friday" has been noted, probably, by all of us. "Good" for us, certainly. Without the cross-work of the Son of God on that day, all would be lost, hopelessly and forever.

But of course it was a horrid day, viewed from any other angle. Our race — Adam's race — reached its nadir on that day. Any appalling crime you can call to mind was bottomed by the mock-trial and the mocking of God incarnate. At that point, we hit bottom, and the Gospels record it for all to see, for all time.

But the worst day, ever, for the apostles and most who loved Jesus, had to be that Saturday, which today marks.

The events of Thursday night and Friday must have been a surreal nightmare, a madman's collage. With "the triumphal entry" still in their minds, the apostles had suddenly seen everything turned on its head, beyond their darkest imaginations. They must have fallen asleep — assuming they fell asleep, since that was about all they were good at — with numbed hearts and bedazzled minds.

But then Saturday dawned. Reality hit. It had really happened. They were now waking up, for the first time in three years, with no Jesus. That meant no Messiah, no Lord.  No hope, no guide; no one who really knew what He was doing. No point to doing what they had all left their jobs and their lives to do.

And nothing had changed overnight. He died Friday. He was still dead, Saturday.

Horrible, throbbing reality settling down on their chests like a massive elephant. What now? Dear God in Heaven, what now? What do we do? What do we say? What do we tell the crowds? What do we tell our families? Do we go back with our tail between our legs, and beg for our jobs back? And what, what do we make of the world now, now that we had repented because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand... and yet it seems more distant than ever?

Not only that, but there had to be the throbbing pain of guilt. We think of Peter's big talk, but remember: everyone had said the same (Mark 14:31). Big talk, big promises, massive failure, every one of them.

What, what to do about all that?

For them, Saturday had to be the worst day, ever.

All that, for one reason: because they did not believe the Word of God.

We should never forget what a surprise Sunday was for all of them. This is a critical miscalculation for every worldling who has whistled past the empty grave, trying to explain away the Resurrection as wish-fulfillment or mass hallucination. None of them expected it, in spite of Jesus' teaching. None of them was looking for it. All of them thought it was over. All of them were caught off-guard that Sunday.

Let us think about that, this Saturday. We should learn from it. And while we thank God that Friday was not the end of the story, let us also thank Him that Saturday wasn't its end, either.

Dan Phillips's signature


Becky, slave of Christ said...

Excellent perspective. Good stuff to be thinking about. Thanks Dan.

Rob said...

This was fantastic Dan. Having just been blessed by yesterday's Good Friday service and anticipating tomorrow's Easter service, I think there tends to be that intermediary timeframe on Saturday that is composed of little more than just heading to the grocery store to pick up those last few things for the wife for the big family dinner tomorrow, so I appreciate this meditation on what today would have meant for the disciples, as well as the anticipation that today is for the believer, looking forward to celebrating the resurrection both tomorrow and every day.

donsands said...

I wonder if John, who was at the Cross, thought about Jesus' words of rising from the dead? He seems different than the others. I'm sure Satan was doing his thing as well, to bring doubt, although he was crushed when Christ said, "It is Finished!" That was a holy heel on his ugly head.

Have a blessed and joyous Easter in our Lord's grace and truth and love!

michellemabell said...

Amen and amen.

Thanks for posting this. It really helped to remind me how to keep this day in perspective.


NoLongerBlind said...

Well said, Dan.

Certainly easy to overlook this day between the lines, from our post-Resurrection, no-longer-blind perspective.

Thanks for the week-end bonus!

Up from the grave He arose; with a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday.

Rachael Starke said...

Wonderful thoughts on "worst days". I'm so thankful for the disciples and their utter lameness. It reminds me that my own is, at least, familiar to Jesus. How good He is to remain faithful in the midst of our faithlessness.

Sharon said...

I have often wondered what was going through the disciples' minds on Saturday, and how their short term memory prevented them from recalling the words of their Lord, "destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days." Praise God there was a joyous Sunday after this sorrowful Saturday!

Susan said...

Amen to that. My Saturday today hasn't been too great. :/

And what a take on the worst day ever for the apostles. I thought you'd say (like most of us) that Friday would be the worst.

But no matter. The BEST day will soon be here. :)

Stefan said...

Good thoughts for this in-between day (as Rob pointed out).

If Saturday was the end of it, there would certainly not have been any Christianity. Jesus' words would have been empty and meaningless and pointless—the words of a deluded madman who'd led a group of gullible followers astray, and nothing more.

But then Sunday happened...and it was all true! In the raising of the Son from the grave, all the promises of God (both Father and Son) were authenticated, and the testimony of the witnesses passed on and preserved for posterity, so that all who hear may know and believe that Jesus is both Lord and Christ!

DJP said...

If Saturday were the end, Stefan, then there'd be no interest in the rest of the Bible except as a curiosity, as far as I'm concerned. Having no racial ties to Judaism, I'd have no interest in what (absent the NT) seems to me to be a failed religion.

DJP said...

Ironic, BTW, isn't it? Only the truth of Christ rescues Judaism, yet the leaders still are on the wrong side of Deuteronomy 18:18-22.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

I wrote elsewhere on the significance of the Passover and the Exodus as examples of God's great redemptive work...but even they find their greatest expression in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ 1500 years later.

I've tried reading the Hebrew Bible as if the New Testament was irrelevant to it—but then it seems incomplete and pointless. The Temple has been out of commission for almost 2000 years, so it has been impossible to properly keep the Mosaic Law; yet at the same time, all the Prophets wrote of a Messiah who is still believed to have not yet come, and whose coming is not even believed in by most people any more, except the most orthodox.

And so in lieu of New Covenant fulfilment, we look instead for fulfilment in cultural traditions and various kinds of mysticism; keeping of the Law through dietary regulations and Sabbath observance; and reinterpretation of the substance of our religion through oral traditions.

But where is the living, breathing heart of biblical faith: the prophetic, revealed religion that looked forward to fulfilment of God's great covenant promises in the Son of David and Passover Lamb, our great King and Redeemer?

And the Good News is: He has come, and will come again in power and glory!

Steve Berven said...

It's struck me odd, of late, how through the secularization of Easter, we have turned a time a great tragedy, suffering, death and resurrection, into an event we celebrate with bright summer dresses, bunting, ribbons and candy.

One would think that if this were truly a Christian observance, it would be a much more somber occasion. True, we have great joy in the Resurrection, but we so readily gloss over the reasons that this sacrifice was required.

Saturnalia and Ishtar have eclipsed our celebrations of the birth, death and resurrection of our Christ.