We flew home from Hawaii yesterday and today, spending the night at the Doubletree Inn in San Jose, CA on our way back, making me slightly loopy today, slightly behind in posting, but also, once I think of it, having been in a between-place in the last twenty-four hours. Not quite home, but also, not quite where in the paradise where I'd been living and walking in the bright, warm sun all for the last seven days.
This makes me not unlike the disciples--though, of course--on a very-much-shorter-and less-cosmic-scale--who had lived in one reality for all the days since they'd been pulled out of their everyday existence of tax-collecting and fishing and however else they made their living, into something entirely different. All by the voice of one man calling them by name. "I saw you under the tree, Nathaniel," "Come, Simon, James, John, I'll make you fishers of men." And they came, abandoning all they knew and were presumably used to for some kind of dusty itinerate life on the dusty road, walking from one place to the next, sleeping who knew where, calling men out of trees to feed them and feeding people on hills out of boys' lunches. Watching the sick be healed, the lame walk, and the blind made to see. And hearing the man they walked with speak and speak and speak. And all through those days, it was the best of times. Like the sun was warm on their faces every day they walked with such a man. Even when doors were slammed against them, leaders rose up in ire to protest such words as their teacher spoke, they had the one thing that made such a time like walking and living and being in Paradise--they had Him among them. Every single day.
So when those days ended--not with a whimper but a bang, they were shocked into a 'between' time. Yes, He had warned them. If they'd been really listening, they'd have heard they foreshadowing not only in His words but in His increasingly weighted action as He moved exorably toward Jerusalem and all that awaited Him there. Toward the Gethsemane, Calgary and the darkness beyond. But (like us, who are equally thick of mind and only clear in vision in our rear-view mirrors), those people who walked with Jesus didn't hear His words nor realized what His actions meant. They were living in a fool's paradise.
So shocked they were. The shock of their lives when that Paradise ended. As shocked, I might guess, as the shock the first people on this planet felt when, due to their short-sightedness, the first of our lot also left Paradise to wander blindly on their own without the intimate company of God. It's a striking parallel, isn't it? The first pair didn't live to see Sunday. Never knew a resurrection was coming. They lived with the loss--and the knowledge that they'd lost Him of their own accord (if they dared admit for an instant that it was actually their own fault, which humans are usually loathe to do). Still, whether they admitted it or not, there was enough fault to go around--God makes that pretty clear in Genesis 3--Adam must take some, Eve still more and the enemy still more. God is a fair and righteous judge and lays responsibility at the feet of those whom it belongs.
At the Cross, that responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of--every person who walked with Jesus. None got away scott-free, whether they'd run away or stood and watched. More than that, not one of us who ever lived is off the hook for what happened that Friday morning at the Cross. We do well to remember that all our Paradises ended there. ALL of them. The best days we've ever lived stop short at the cross.
And with those men and women who holed up in the 'between' time of that long Friday He spent hanging there, and the Saturday when they had no inkling He'd ever be anything but dead. We must stand still with them. We must linger there and remember what He was doing during that 'between time'. Jesus wasn't simply biding His time, waiting those three days because it made for good drama. He was still 'about His Father's business,' raising hell, so to speak against the forces of the enemy. Because all the sin of all those who'd ever lived (starting with that bite-of-fruit that started the whole ball rolling) He was down in hell, waging war with the enemy. Yes, while the disciples were licking wounds mostly imagined, Jesus was busy saving their lives.
That's what that 'between-time' was about. For each of us, that's what Saturday us. While we're shocked into silence, or trying to decide how to get even, or so hurt we curl up into a corner, Jesus had waged and won a war on our behalves. The worst thing you ever did, the thing you cannot bear to expose, the pain you've caused that would throw you out of Paradise (and if you don't think you have such a thing, chances are, that sin is pride or arrogance), Jesus has saved you. From yourself, to begin with. From the enemy, ultimately.
Sit with that a moment. Between time.
Then tomorrow will be so much sweeter. Will also come upon you with shock--but also so much joy, there will be tears, laughter and dancing. And no place on earth will contain it. That's Paradise--that's what resurrection feels like. At least that's what I think it felt like to them!