(Related Post: It’s Sunday)
Terrifying streaks of lightning flash across the darkening sky and great peals of thunder reverberate through the hills surrounding the city. The wind howls and whistles through the trees and down alley ways of the ancient city. Underground tremors make the ground buckle and undulate like the waves rolling onto the beach. Men and women, long dead, are seen moving about the city as the ghoulish drama continues to unfold. Rising above the howl of the wind and the rolling rumble of thunder, a parched and cracking voice summons one last desperate, inhuman croak, “Father! Forgive them!” At that very instant, wrenched apart by an unseen hand, the veil of the temple which shields the Holy of Holies from the sight of the unwashed is suddenly torn; ripped in half from top to bottom, exposing to terrified eyes that which has been so long hidden from the sight of ordinary men.
The city falls silent as the moon slowly moves across the face of the sun, blotting out its light for almost three hours. Cloaked in darkness, shadowy figures stumble through the garden, clumsily bearing a hastily wrapped body toward a tomb quickly procured to receive the its guest. It was intended for one Joseph of Arimathea, but tonight it will hide a nobler corpse. They must hurry; the hour of the Passover is almost upon them and they must finish their grim duty before the onset of the feast. A quick wrapping of a burial shroud and a face napkin will have to suffice until the first day of the week when their friend can be properly prepared for burial.
The dear son of Galilee is dead.
As the city languishes in oppressive darkness, the hearts of Jesus’ small band of followers are suffocating under a blanket of grief. They had given up everything to follow Him. House and home, family and family business; they had dropped their nets and abandoned their boats to follow Him and now. . . . .Well now He’s dead.
It is the darkest day in history.
So many of His words are now forgotten in the mind numbing pain of his death. Peter refuses to close his eyes because when he does he can only hear the sound of his own voice of denial. When his friend needed him most his courage had failed. As John lies on a pallet on the floor the images of Jesus’ beaten and broken body flood his mind in a barrage of unending images. Those sharp Galilean features were pulverized beyond recognition. They had literally beaten his face off his skull. His back, laid so bear by the whip as to expose organs. The sound of the nails being driven through his wrists into the crossmember hammer in James’ mind over and over and over and over. . . . he rolls over and faces the stucco wall and screams without making a sound.
The darkest day in history has rolled into the longest night.
“I have come that you might have life. . . and that, more abundantly.” Jesus is dead.
“I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, you may be also.” I helped lay him in the tomb. He is dead!
“In my Father’s house are many mansions – if it were not so I would have told you.” Jesus is dead!
There are no mansions, there is no kingdom, no abundant life, no streets of gold – nothing. It’s all a lie! A monstrous, cruel, heartless sham!
Jesus, it wasn’t just you who died there. We all died. Every hope, every dream, every lofty aspiration; every hope of redemption, every shred of hope for deliverance, all of that was wrapped up in you – and I just buried you!
The darkest day in history has snuffed out every dream.
His mother, sits and stares out the window. She gazes into the night but sees nothing of the city. All she can see is a beautiful little boy with the wisest eyes playing around the door sill, smiling and giggling and bringing so much joy into their little home in Nazareth. She sees a young boy, barely 12 confounding the wisest men in all of Israel with a wisdom that is simply, other worldly. The serene image of their happy home in Nazareth is suddenly shattered by the image of his cold, lifeless body slumping to the ground as he is lowered from the cross. In the distance of many years she hears words, “You shall call his name Jesus.”
It is the darkest moment of a mother’s life.
Not far away, a priest sits in his study; a contemplative tower overlooking the city. As he sits in silence, he gazes at the flickering lights of Jerusalem shimmering in the the darkness. There is only the tiny light from a candle on the table next to the window where he sits. A scroll at his arm is partially unrolled; it is the scroll of Isaiah. In the light of the flickering candle he reads, mouthing the words softly,
“Who hath believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before us like a young plant, and like a root out of the dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
His reading is interrupted as a quick puff of air blows through the window and extinguishes the candle. As the room is engulfed in the inky black of night a whisper escapes his lips, “O God, what have we done?”
It is the darkest day in all of history.
In the tomb there is only darkness. The stone has sealed it up that even sound cannot enter. He who was the hope of so many lies silently in the grave. As life was exhaled from his body, the life was sucked out of so many dreams; the dreams of men who had finally………..finally found hope, only to have their hopes nailed to a cross, hurriedly thrown into a borrowed tomb, and sealed with the sign of Caesar.
There has been no darker day in all the days of mankind.
“And on the seventh (sabbath) day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh (sabbath) day from all his work that he had done.” Genesis 2:2