And then it was over. I don't know about you, but I've had a couple of days like this, the day after a most beloved loved on died. The one that makes me most 'get' what the followers of Jesus that first Saturday might have been feeling was the day after my father died. My father died bright and early one August morning and we all slept-walked through that day. Barely closed our eyes through that night. I tend to have trouble getting to sleep, so I tossed and turned until about 3 AM. My sister, the Dump got up sometime while I was still tossing, went upstairs to sit in the over-sized chair in the corner or my parents' living room. A while later, our older brother, Dad's namesake, R the III, came stumbling out and just about jumped out of his skin when at my sister's quiet 'hi'. My mother was already up as well, so there were the three of them, up and doing the hard work of the day at 3 AM.
The hard work of the day. That's what the followers of Jesus had to do that Sabbath. They had nothing else to do, of course. It was the Sabbath, after all, with no Lord of the Sabbath to lead them out. No, I imagine them perhaps gathered in that same upper room where they'd last felt easy, last felt certain that they knew what they were about, what He was about, who He was. That upper room, where they'd last felt safe. The city wasn't safe, certainly. If they'd come after Jesus, who knew if they'd be next. So they sat in corners, reclining again, though not in joy. And not to eat. Some of them thought they might never eat again. Others thought only food would do the trick--bury the pain of loss. But they had to be careful. It was the Sabbath and they couldn't work.
And grief itself was work aplenty. What was swirling in their brains was work aplenty. All the things He'd told them. All those promises. Come to nothing. And what they'd left for Him. Jobs and homes and families...everything. Everything!
And now there was nothing. Nothing!
We live this story with the end in mind. We can't not. We know Sunday's coming when Friday happens. But they didn't. They had the pleasure, the extreme pleasure, of His company for three years, had heard His voice--His actual human voice (oh God, to hear His voice--there are tears in my eyes as I write this)--had been sought by Him again and again (think of Him finding them as they worked, as they sat under trees, did their jobs, think of Him walking to them across the water--He NEVER stopped seeking them!), they'd heard Him tell them in oblique terms and straight out, exactly what was going to happen, what His purpose was. They'd seen the miracles: the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead living. The temple clearing. They'd seen it all, heard it all, lived it all with Him in ways that we don't get. That was their privilege, their extreme, God-given privilege. And...
They also had to live it with Him. The jeers, the unbelief--the crowds', the pharisees', their own! They had to walk through that last week, the last few days, and discover what they were made of--which wasn't much. They were made of denial, and fear, and fleeing. And all those things He'd told them about His purpose, both oblique and straight-out, didn't add up to a hill-of-skulls that Saturday. They absolutely, totally, completely missed it. Didn't know what the end of the story was anymore than...
any of us would were we in their place. Because don't for one moment think you'd be any different. Or that I would. We wouldn't. We'd have scratched our heads in confusion, run away in fear, cowered in the corner. And that's if we hadn't been in the crowd, yelling, "Crucify Him." No, thank God, we didn't have to live what they did. Really, God knew what we were made of. What we get in place of their luxury of time and place and human voice of Jesus is that we always live with the end in mind. We cannot face the crucifixion, cannot face the stone-tight closed tomb of Saturday without the rolled-away stone of Sunday. We get (and now the tears are running again) His voice calling Mary's name, and Peter and John having a foot-race when she tells them. We get that. We don't slink off from the cross with our tail between our legs, thinking it's over, because we know the cross is only half the battle. And that the battle is already won.
For us. Again, and again, and again, it bears repeating. FOR US. For you, for me. For every person who ever took a breath, who was ever conceived, who was ever created in the magnificent Image of God Himself.
So have a good Saturday. A great Saturday. A blessed beyond blessed Saturday. For this, too, is what we get.