Waiting for the Dawn

So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

The gospels scantly narrate the events of Black Saturday with the knowledge and joy of the resurrection as a foregone conclusion; but today I tried to imagine what that Sabbath day must have been like for the apostles, who had yet no idea that Jesus would rise. Simon Peter would have been wallowing in despair at vehemently denying his friend and master. John the son of Zebedee would have been consoling Jesus’ mother Mary in her grief. Mark might have been looking for a new garment to replace the one he lost in Gethsemane.

I’m sure all of them were overwhelmed with sadness, disappointment, and doubt. The man, the cause, for which they had left everything and laid down their lives, had been bloodily flogged, humiliatingly executed, and hurriedly buried, and they, despite their protestations of solidarity, had been the first to abandon him. There had been no sudden burst of heavenly power, no Military Messiah destroying the temple and driving out the Romans and seizing the throne of power. There had not even been a bold proclamation of defiance from the cross, but just a few tortured, all-too-mortal words: “I thirst.” Now they had nothing, not even a bold last memory of their beloved rabbi.

This was absolute rock-bottom.

The sun set, and the Sabbath ended, and they slept. Some were still in grief, perhaps others were beginning to plan for what would come next. I wonder what went through their heads: a return to fishing, perhaps? Stay in Jerusalem and continue Yeshua’s teachings, even on pain of torture and death? Maybe, just maybe, the more daring ones — maybe those fiery sons of Zebedee — contemplated the possibility of sneaking past the Roman guards and stealing the body? But we know they didn’t try. Some, by then, must have been resigned to the idea that life would be Christless from then on.

Have you been there? Has God just not come through for you, whether in your circumstances or in the people around you? Perhaps His long silence makes the idea of resigning to a Christless, Godless life all the more appealing. But wait. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. He rolls the stone away even while it is “still dark,” and gives the night as well as the morning. Stand fast, and wait for the dawn.