For Christ’s disciples, “good Friday” was anything but good. Their whole world fell apart in less than 24 hours. Scripture doesn’t tell us much, but that Sabbath was likely full of sadness, questioning, and fear as well. It was truly the darkest weekend.
I recall once how difficult it was for my wife and I to celebrate my niece’s first birthday when we had just suffered a miscarriage days before. Our grief seemed to lock out the chance of entering into anybody else’s happiness. It was all we could do to walk by the stack of baby clothes without sobbing at our unfulfilled dreams. Surely for those disciples trying to celebrate Passover, they felt similar but worse. It was as if the angel of death had struck their personal home! Jesus was gone, and so was their abundant joy experienced on Palm Sunday.
To quote the great preacher S.M. Lockridge, the disciples didn't know “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!” And praise God it did.
While they lingered in despair and confusion, their hope stole away. Simultaneously, the powers of evil were having a victory dance unseen to the human eye. Their mission was half accomplished: Jesus was dead. Now...just keep Him dead. Fallen angels certainly lingered hidden at the tomb, since Satan knew Scripture even better than we do. But it was time for a showdown!
One of the highlights of the Resurrection Pageant’s final scene is observing the brief choreographed battle between angelic forces at the tomb. My palms sweat a little as I see the smiling, white-robed messengers of peace get assaulted from all angles by their demonic counterparts. As the music crescendos, though, I rejoice to see Gabriel himself command a strong victory as evil is sent retreating, defeated. (By the way, that battle is real and we are immersed in it on a daily basis. Have you felt it?)
They say it’s darkest just before dawn. In those early morning hours so long ago, before the S-U-N had a chance to brighten the rocky hillside of Jerusalem, the S-O-N burst back on the scene. A brilliant angel rolling away the stone and a resulting earthquake made sure that no soldier guarding the tomb could miss the truth: the lifeless One they had been trying to hold down was God. (Really? A creature hold down its Creator?) They fell “like dead men” (Mt 28:4)
And just like that, Hope was reborn. Jesus exited the tomb.
Roll the credits.
The first one He greeted was His most devout follower, Mary Magdalene. Through tear-filled eyes, she observed the one Malachi had called “The Sun of Righteousness” who would arise with “healing in His wings.” (Mal 4:2) She traded her despair for hope that morning. She handed in her confusion for truth. She returned sadness for joy. She was amazed at how quickly her immeasurable sorrow could be transformed. It all came from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.
Do you have grief or anxiety in this present time of uncertainty? Exactly one year after our miscarriage, God provided hope reborn as we saw a positive result come through on a pregnancy test.You can experience Hope reborn, too! Wipe away your tears and listen for Jesus’ voice like Mary. You’ll be glad you did!
Written by Travis Patterson Pastor for Family & Children's Ministries Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church