Jesus died on Friday afternoon.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon...Jesus...breathed his last (Luke 23:44-46).
The faithful women disciples were with him to the very end.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath (Luke 23:55-56).
I can only imagine how devastated the women must have been. They had seen their teacher and Messiah die. They had seen his lifeless body laid out. How they must have wrestled! Did they forget what Jesus had said - that he would die and rise again? Did they not believe because they had seen with their own eyes that he was dead? Did hopelessness take over?
He is the Messiah! How can he be gone? He was bringing in a new kingdom. But I saw him die. He is our rabbi, teacher. But I saw his lifeless body in the tomb. He raised others from the dead? But, but, but...
I feel like these women, in this "three-days-phase". These are days of waiting, of mixed feelings, of wrestling. I serve and love a good God who speaks of healing, of abundant life, of peace and restoration.
But, but, but...it seems hopeless. It looks like sin has won. It seems like I heard wrong or have forgotten.
I think the church is also in this stage. God said that nothing would prevail against his church. He said he would come back again and set it all right. But it looks hopeless. Sometimes, it looks like God is still dead.
But hold on. The story doesn't end here.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body (Luke 24:1-3).
Then angels spoke to the women. They women justifiably terrified.
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again (Luke 24:5b-7). Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:5-6).
Then they remembered his words (Luke 24:8). But go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you (Mark 16:7).
Told you so! Now it's coming back to them. Oh yeah, he did say that, didn't he? Remember how he told you he would die and rise again on the third day! Now it begins to make sense. He truly is the Messiah and he is alive!
Now his words to the women become: Do not be afraid. Don't look for the living among the dead. I am alive and fulfilling my word. Go and tell my brothers.
Likewise, God reminds me of what he has said, "I will complete the good work begun in you and those you love. I will heal and bring delight. I am enough for you. You can float in my love and I will bring you to my ordained destination. In quietness and trust is your strength. I will grant your desires."
The Apostle Paul also understood this concept. In 2 Corinthians 1:9-10, he said:
We expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered (rescued) us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope (placed our confidence) that he will continue to deliver us. (NLT/NIV mix)
So often I act as though God is still in the tomb. Can I believe that he is alive and will do the unthinkable, just as he said? Can I remember and trust that he will be true to his word? To not be afraid but rather to go and tell of his power and resurrection life? He has risen. He has power. He is alive. He is great and good. Go and tell!
Fill in the blanks with your own experience:
God has said __________________________________________________
But it seems like _______________________________________________
But in fact he has risen and he will come again!
Lord, at times it looks so bleak that I wonder if you are still alive and at work. Help me to remember your words of promise. Teach me to rely only on you and not on myself or my nation or anything else. Deliver me from evil for you are a God who raises the dead. In you, I place my trust.