Two days ago a Maundy Thursday service was offered where we remembered that during His last Passover meal with His apostles, Jesus gave us a new command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This was the same night that Jesus knelt down as a lowly servant to wash the feet of His followers to show them that His love is truly about humbly caring for and cleaning even the roughest, dirtiest areas of our lives. Yet, we are cut to our souls to know that this new command of love was given on the very same night that Jesus was left alone by all His closest friends as He poured out His heart in agonizing prayer to His Father. It was the same night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of His closest followers, who with a kiss brought a crowd carrying clubs and swords to seize and arrest the Prince of Peace. It was the same night that the one Jesus had named Peter, the Rock, would crumble and choose to lie about Him and three times deny even knowing Jesus. How could this outrageous denial happen? Wasn’t it Peter who had once boldly proclaimed, “You are the Christ! The Son of the Living God!”?
And the next day, the Good Friday service had each of us look full in the face of our Jesus as He suffered a horribly cruel, shameful, unjust, undeserved death on the cross. He was falsely accused. Jesus was mocked, slapped, beaten with fists, whipped with the flesh-ripping lashes. His holy head was punctured and bloodied by the fierce push of the crown of thorns. His feet that walked so many miles to preach good news to the poor and His healing hands that had healed all manner of illness, cast out demons and gave life back to the dead, were now brutally forced to stop as nails were hammered into them, pushing His flesh and blood into the wood of the cross. And even after Jesus committed His spirit into the hands of His Father and gave up His last breath, His side was pierced by the cruel and scrutinizing stabbing of the soldier’s sword. On Friday Jesus died in an agony of spirit and body that none of us will ever fully comprehend. He suffered the physical torment of outrageous brutality while bearing the weight of every sin ever committed by every person throughout all of human history. Jesus died for me. For my sin. For you. For your sin. For the sins of every person who has ever hurt you, has ever hurt anyone, in any way. And as Jesus bore the crushing, killing weight of all our sins, the spiritual torture that he suffered was far worse than any physical cruelty could ever inflict. “Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21) – and in so doing, Jesus, the Son of God, was condemned, rejected, alienated, separated and abandoned by His God and His Father. The ripping of His holy, yet now, sin-blackened soul away from the eternal and beautiful unity He had shared with His Abba was an agony inflicted on Jesus that shuddered and shocked all of creation. On Friday Jesus died. His dead, disfigured body was taken down from the cross, and Jesus was buried in a tomb meant for someone else.
And now it’s Saturday. No more lies. No more betrayal. No more denial. No more brutality. Just death. And quiet. And darkness. And confusion.
This is Saturday. The Sabbath. But rest comes only as shock. Only as numbness. Only from exhaustion of body, mind and spirit. This is Saturday. We wait. There is something we are holding onto. But right now, that something is indistinguishable. Shock and numbness are far more real and far more tangible than anything else right now on this quiet, dark and confusing day. Too many questions. Too much unknown. And so we wait.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:4-6