Saturday, April 11, 2009

Longest Day

The above photo was taken of a church near Red House, MD about two years ago.

As I've had opportunity, I've been trying to do a little reflecting on the triduum, the three days at the end of the lenten season. It all starts with Maundy Thursday, then Good Friday, then ends with Holy Saturday.

But let's just set aside the tradition for just a minute and reflect and remember the original period. What would it have been like? What would it have been like to be spending an evening with your Friend who was just asking you to stay awake and pray for just a little while, but you kept falling asleep. WHat would it have been like to be awoken by the roman guard coming in to take away your Friend, the One you believed was the Messiah? If you were daring enough to follow his captivity and trial from a distance, you would witness him taking a beating unlike any you had ever seen after a middle of the night trial.

I can barely picture what this would have been like to the early disciple and witness all of that. But it didn't stop there. I mean, they probably saw Jesus crucified. Now when we watch passion plays or even the movie, we don't get the full effect. He was beaten beyond recognition. He was naked. He was probably gurgling and gasping for air in pained moves. The flesh was torn from much of His body, and He had lost massive amounts of blood. Even before the trial and beating, He had sweat blood from His pores.

So you look upon your Messiah, realizing you are unable to do anything to stop this injustice. Nobody deserves to die like this. You might even wonder if there was something you might have done that could have prevented it. It's the way we always wonder about loss of a loved one when we realize our time is short with them. You look up at the cross and see your Rabbi Jesus breathe his last. (That's if you can stand the sight of this kind of suffering). As He breathes His last, your sadness grows greater. The Sabbath is fast approaching.

Of course no one can walk a long distance on the sabbath. So begins the longest day. Jesus has been crucified under Pontius Pilate, and you can not go to visit the tomb until Sunday morning. So you go to the temple just like any other devout Jewish person. You weep. You morn for the loss of your dear Friend. But the day seems sooooo long. You gather with friends, and maybe share some stories of favorite moments with Jesus.

It just doesn't seem real. Just a few days ago, you were celebrating as He rode into town--on a donkey. Everyone thought He was the One. The crowds cheered as He rode in on that Donkey.

Maybe one day, in the resurrection, you might see Him again, but your Friend is in a tomb.

For now, it is the Sabbath. It's time to sit and wait. Maybe tomorrow will offer you an opportunity to pay last respects. Maybe then you can go and visit the tomb. It's too far to travel on a sabbath. The sun may be shining today, but it's clouds, tears, and dismal darkness in your mind.

It's hard to imagine the loss those first disciples felt. They didn't know what was coming on Sunday.

And sometimes, I have to wonder if we can really grasp what was coming on Sunday either.

1 comment:

Jeff Moss said...

There's something more--the fear. The disciples just knew that what happened to Jesus could happen to them too. They were hiding, terrified.

When it was time to visit His grave and finish the embalming process early on the morning after Sabbath, only a few women dared to go. Maybe they had greater faith than the apostles. Or maybe they just thought that nobody would take their presence seriously and they could slip through without notice.

Messiah's resurrection was victory over Death, of course. But just as important (or is it really the same thing?), it was victory over Fear.