Imagine the early disciples on the first Good Friday. It certainly wasn’t good in their eyes. Their leader has just been killed, by the state.
This wasn’t a drive by. This wasn’t a domestic dispute. This wasn’t an accident. The authorities put him on trial and then the crowd decided that Jesus was going to die. They freed a murderer instead.
They knew they were upsetting the status quo with their little group but they didn’t know it would lead to Jesus being crucified.
They’ve been up all night with him. They were keeping watch while he prayed. Well, they weren’t really doing a great job of it. He kept finding them asleep. They were sleeping in bits and pieces, outside, on the ground. It wasn’t a restful night. He’d told them what was going to happen but they didn’t really get the severity of it. They certainly didn’t think it would end like it did.
The soldiers came, with Judas. Here’s someone they know. It will all work out OK, they are sure of that. Nope. There’s a fight. A soldier’s ear gets cut off. Jesus gets taken away. Nothing makes sense anymore.
And then this. No last minute reprieve. He’s dead.
Crucifixion is a terrible way to die. It is humiliating. It is long and slow. You suffocate to death, nearly naked, in front of everybody. Meanwhile you are in agony because of the nails that are holding you onto the cross. No anesthesia. No mercy. It is a cruel death – one designed to send a message. Don’t challenge the system or you’ll meet the same fate.
Everything has turned upside down for them. Nothing makes sense. Everyone and everything appears to be against them, and the person they would ask for advice is dead.
They are wondering if they are next.
Where is the person who stilled the raging sea? Where is the person who healed all those people? They are needing healing themselves right about now. There is a raging storm in their hearts, and there is nobody there to say “Be still!”
Let us sit in this moment.
Scattered. Lost. Abandoned. All hope is lost.
Don’t run away from this feeling. You have to live thorough it.
We are those disciples.
We are wondering where is God now. We think God has forsaken us.
We don’t see a happy ending to this story.
Sit with this feeling. Don’t rush ahead to the end of the story. Don’t rush ahead to Easter. You know how this ends. They didn’t. Be those disciples. Feel this loss. Feel all hope draining out of you. Feel the exhaustion and the fear.
And know that God is still with you, even in this moment, even in this agony.