Last night I went to the Good Friday service at my church. It was a good service. It essentially consisted of people just reading Scripture about the crucifixion. I try not to get too obsessed with trying to always learn something new in listening to stories of familiarity. Sometimes it is important to simply just sit and remember. However, there was a theme to this story that was highlighted in my mind this year. It was the theme of finality.
Have you ever paid attention to the amount of detail there is in the story? Description is given throughout the narrative. The authors make time to point out where moments of the crucifixion are fulfillments of prophecies. It is easy for us to notice the amount of detail that goes into the story relating to Jesus death, but I think sometimes we forget and skim over the burial phase.
They were grieving. So many followers of Christ were grieving. We forget that. Maybe it is because we assume everyone just turned on Jesus and cried out “crucify him” from the crowd. Not everyone did though. Even though they hid they were still grieving. Nicodemus, a religious leader who came to Jesus in the night to avoid being seen became a follower somewhere along the way. He made a point to help prepare Jesus body for burial.
The resurrection was not expected. This was it. All the lessons, journeys, preaching, miracles, everything had come to an end. This was not a temporary darkness. This was the end. All the hopes and dreams were shattered. All of the joy and delight was gone. They had just gone back to sheep without a shepherd. Confusion was the new guide. Despair was the new comforter.
Jesus said “it is finished” before he died on that cross. I’m sure all of his followers would have agreed with the surface level meaning of that statement. It was indeed finished. Everything was finished. Everything they had given up had been robbed of its purpose. Murder and betrayal had one. This was not a bitter sweet feeling based off of the pain of the loss of a friend, but joy over the payment of their debt. Jesus was dead. The debt was paid for, but burdens and weariness still remained. Sunday was coming, but they saw no reason to expect Sunday. They went into Sunday believing there to be an occupied tomb.
Death was the finality. It was a cold wakeup call to what they believed was the reality of the world, and that reality was that even in the greatest triumphs and joys of life death is still waiting to greet you at the end of the road.
Why is this realization of the sinking finality of deaths Christ important for us to realize today? I think we need to recognize those feelings the followers faced. We know that Sunday is coming tomorrow. We know it is a beautiful Sunday to signify the greatest victory there ever was, but they did not know that, or at least failed to remember it. That is such a beautiful part to the story though. Jesus resurrection was not dependent upon expectation. It was not contingent upon belief. It was not hindered in the face of the belief of the finality of death. Why should we assume any different during our darkest days?
We all face dark times. We all confront obstacles that present themselves with a demeanor of finality in life. Obstacles that seem to stop us from pursuing dreams or desires. Dreams and desires that we believe have been place don our hearts by the God we serve. Some of these are obstacles that make for a difficult period in a marriage. Sometimes they are obstacles that cause pain in the relationship with a friend. Sometimes they are obstacles they steal joy away from ministry. Sometimes they are obstacles they just seem to grow distance in your relationship with Christ. In each of those moments a Sunday is still going to arrive. A reminder that there is only one finality we can know to be true. God wins.