They shifted around listlessly. Through the walls they could hear the soft sobbing and occasional wail of the women in the next room. The men would look at each other briefly before ashamedly diverting their eyes.
How could they be so wrong? Everything had seemed so right.
Peter dabbed at the corner of his eye, but even he did not have any words for the moment. He sat and ruefully ruminated on the events of the the last day. In that amount of time, he had witnessed his hope, his confidence, and his future literally die.
Thomas’ voice cut the silence. “What do we do now?”
Peter broke out of his trance and stood up. “I’m going fishing,” he said as he gathered his cloak. “You guys can sit here, but I’m going crazy staring at these walls.”
“You can’t leave!” exclaimed John, “Everyone knows we were with Him. You’ll be ridiculed by everyone who sees you! The High Priest may even be looking for us!”
“John is right,” James chimed in, “We should lay low and stay here until the dust settles. Let everyone forget about last night, forget about us. Some new scandal or news is bound to crop up soon enough. In the meantime, we can think about what to do next.”
“Next?” retorted a bewildered Peter. “What do you mean next? The man we followed and devoted our lives to the last three years is lying in a grave. Jesus is dead. We move on, that’s what we do next! Maybe there’s a Messiah yet out there.”
I’m not altogether sure this is what happened the day after Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, but this is the scene that plays in my mind. A band of disheartened, broken disciples sitting around, asking themselves, what happened? How did things go wrong so fast?
Just earlier in the week, Jesus had ridden into the city heralded as a King and now He lay wrapped in strips of cloth and returning to dust. Just two days earlier, they were confident they were following the Christ, the One who was to rescue Israel and establish His throne over the earth. Now He was just another teacher, a prophet maybe, and a failed Messiah. Messiah’s don’t die before they accomplish their purpose.
We who live in the future know the outcome of the story, what happens soon enough: the glorious resurrection of Jesus and His ascension! The fulfillment of numerous prophecies, the theological implications of the death of the Son of God, and the realization of where His Kingdom was. We have 2000 years of theology and study and speculation. The original disciples did not.
The feeling of defeat is something that is familiar. We know what it means to be broken, to be disappointed, and have our dreams and hopes crushed. We set our expectations high, and down and down they tumble from their lofty place. Things don’t always turn out as we thought they would.
A lost job. Failed relationship. Disease. The death of a loved one. Natural disaster.
And hopelessly, we cry out, Why? What do I do now?
What do you do when hope has hidden herself from you and despair blankets your heart? When depression and disappointment become your late night companions? Sorrow certainly may come with the night, but sometimes joy doesn’t show up with the morning. Or the morning after.
For the disciples, “Friday night” must have been a night of shock and tears and bewilderment. But “Saturday” would have been when the reality of the death of Jesus and the heaviness of defeat sunk in. “Saturday” was when they had to face each other and figure out how to pick up the pieces of their lives.
In the darkest nights of our lives, we can press on, knowing that though we don’t know what the morning brings, God on high does. When we’re bitter and lonely, heartbroken and upset, we trust in the sovereignty and goodness of our faithful Father. And we can trust this: our sorrow is not in vain. We know that for those who love Him, God works all things, seemingly hopeless things included, for our joy and good, and His glory.
All thing. All things.
Like the murder of His innocent Son.
Our suffering, our sorrow, our valleys of the shadow of darkness of death are not without purpose in the hands of a sovereign God. It’s a lesson in patience and trust. And patience and trust are hard.
We may not know what the future brings…. but we know that the story of Good Friday does not end with Saturday.
Easter is coming.