Author’s Note: It’s been said that familiarity breeds unsuspecting unfamiliarity. This series is meant to help your God-given imagination to see things that might feel familiar, but perhaps can be new again: the true events of the last week before Jesus’ death. These posts are adapted from a sermon, and were written with two texts for study: the Gospel accounts and The Final Days of Jesus by Köstenberger and Taylor.
The day begins while dinner ends with full plates and uneasy, empty stomachs. The need to be together to avoid being alone, the quiet of death among the friends of Jesus.
In the Jewish world, the day began at sundown and with the supper meal. The first third of the day was spent sleeping, then working from rest rather than chasing it. The week ended with the Sabbath—a day of rest meant for reflection upon the goodness and provision of God. A day meant for no work but that of hearts filled and pouring out worship to God.
Their friend, their teacher, their walking hope was nailed down and executed by the state—by of the leaders of their faith as a dirty criminal. His blood escaped His body through every exit wound, a spring of passing life cutting crimson streams across His flesh onto the wood until it pooled in the rock below.
There is a silencing confusion that follows injustice. The trauma endured is the kind of horror and sadness that inescapably projects itself on the back of your eyelids. You’d rather stay awake all night in order to keep out the pain that comes when you try to sleep. There is no rest in the chest of these friends. This Sabbath is a day of mourning, of confusion, of diverted eyes and dashed hopes—for He was the King—and now He’s dead still in the rich man’s tomb. Tomorrow brings the terrible and needed duty of giving dignity to the dead by preparing His body for what is to come.
Having killed Jesus, the high priests are trying to reconcile their win with the odd things they’ve seen—a midday darkness, an earthquake, the temple curtain torn in two. Things that might pause, but cannot stop the hardened heart at play. And play on they did. Seeing their dominance through, the high priests approached Pilate and argued for a guard to be placed at the imposter’s tomb. They can’t afford for His disciples to steal the body, giving the public hope over Jesus’ words about rising again. An earthquake at Jesus’ death was not enough to skip the track of self-preservation in their hearts. You can almost hear their thoughts, “Let’s outwait His words. Let’s get through the Sabbath and into the week—then we can start shaming the mention of His name until it’s silenced.”
One wonders what happened to the friends of Jesus in these hours. A sleepless night, a forcing of food, a happy memory that insults the overwhelming pain of loss. Dawn brings no relief, the sun merely reinforces the darkness of the past day. In the loss, the questions come with their blades, as if enough blood had not been spilt:
“Was He really Messiah?”
“What do we do now?”
“Are we next?”
“Where is everyone? Are they safe?”
“Is it really over?”
“Is He really gone?”
The response? Silence. Pain. Confusion. Fear.
Where is our King?