The only thing we know about the disciples on Easter Saturday is from a solemn, brief sentence.
“On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” That is, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday.Luke 23:56
I don’t believe that those words meant they were enjoying a nice rest at all. Can we imagine the horror, the shock, the disappointment and disillusion that flooded their hearts and minds? All their faith, all their hope, now buried in a stranger’s grave. It must have seemed as though their own lives had been destroyed. Every moment with Jesus, every teaching, every miracle, all the vision – worse than futile. Their thoughts will have been going haywire. What had happened to justice? How could darkness overcome light? Jesus was crucified – would they be next? Panic. Who could they trust? How could Judas be a traitor? Did people know where they were? Flight was not an option; it was the sabbath.
As we look at the story, we are able to do so with full knowledge that Sunday is coming, but of course the disciples didn’t know that.
Have you ever felt angry with God? Most of us have. Found faith-filled prayer unanswered? Poured your heart out and seemed to receive the opposite? Trusted in, pleaded, God’s promise, but nothing has happened. Maybe you beseeched God for a loved-one’s life but lost them. Pinned your hope on a positive outcome, only to see everything collapse? Suffered false accusation and felt helpless, wanted to hide for shame, wondered what your family and friends thought of you now? Panicked about rumours getting out? Might you too be falsely accused and sentenced?
Even if we identify with any or all the above, which is the normal Christian’s experience, we are only scratching the surface of the depth and darkness of the disciple’s grief. Thank goodness they were under lockdown (sabbath). Who knows what they might have done, or where they might have fled.
Meanwhile, we know that the Pharisees and chief priests were meeting with Pilate who agreed that the tomb should be sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:62-66). What strange fear had gripped them? Here we see hypocritical religion in cahoots with earthly power in order to stifle life.
When things go wrong in life it’s normal for Christians to suffer every fear, every anger, every reaction that every other human being will suffer given similar circumstances. When the darkness of disappointment and disillusionment overwhelm us, it is normal to feel unfairly treated, to be angry, to need to express the anger that has been unleashed within us. We might fear losing self-control but that’s OK too. We might be unspeakably angry with God, disappointed and disillusioned in him and bottle it up out of fear rather than tell him how we feel.
The good news is that our God is big enough to cope with our anger; it is healthy to be honest with him. He will not be angry when we are honest.
We do, of course, know what was to come the next day. Our God reigns! And whatever we are going through, however black and lost it all feels; however angry, however alone; because God reigns, Sunday will always come.
‘Weeping might tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”Psalm 30:5