We must never forget that before the resurrection occurred, the cross was everything but victorious to the disciples. Friday was everything but Good Friday. Imagine the finality Mary and Mary Magdalene must have felt when they watched the stone rolled in front of the entrance of the tomb. That is the modern day equivalent to covering a coffin in the ground with dirt. The Bible doesn’t tell us the emotions of the two women, it just says that when Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.”
What shock, what sickness must have been in the hearts of these two women as they watched the limp body of Jesus laid in the tomb! What knot of grief must have been in the disciples as the stone was rolled in front of the tomb! They had placed every last ounce of hope in Christ and the kingdom that he promised to establish. They had entered into Jerusalem just five days ago with their heads held high as their Master was praised with palm branches as King. And now those same heads wagged with shame over the complete humiliation of that King.
You can imagine the doubts that may have run through their minds: “What happened? Where did things go wrong? Did evil, sin, and the devil win? Why didn’t God protect his Holy One from corruption? Why didn’t God preserve the honor of his Son? I thought he was the one to redeem Israel. Was he not the Christ, the Son of God?”
Doubts of this nature surely passed through some, if not all, of the disciples’ minds. The overwhelming mood of the disciples before the news of the resurrection is one of complete shock. They can’t remember a thing Jesus said about coming back from the dead (Jn 20:9). All they know is that the person they had come to love above all things was gone.
Many of us have felt it in some measure – that seemingly meaningless void that is left when a loved one dies. The thought, “But you were just here.” The thought, “Just yesterday there was life in that body that is now so cold.” The disciples had left everything and followed Christ. He had become their everything. And now – he was simply gone.
But there is always that disbelief, that strange hope when we lose a loved one, that we will find them still sitting in their favorite recliner when we return home, that we will see them pulling up in the driveway for a visit when we look out the window, or that when our phone rings, it might be them calling to catch up. But then, of course, we realize such hope is in vain – we’ve forgotten that our beloved is no longer there. And what grief when that realization comes!
Perhaps the disciples were experiencing the same strange “foolish” hope concerning Jesus, thinking that they would find him just around the corner arguing with a Pharisee or see him reclining at the dinner table at Lazarus’ house in Bethany. For the disciples, however, that hope wasn’t so foolish. In just another couple of days, their Beloved would, indeed, be just around the corner. He would actually be eating and drinking with them again. What unspeakable joy must have filled their hearts at the sight of their Beloved, alive and well!
In the same way, the resurrection of Jesus is a promise to all of us who have lost loved ones in the Lord. Of course, it is good and right to grieve when we lose loved ones, because death is a corruption of our Creator’s good design of this world. And we know from the death of Lazarus that Jesus grieves over death as well (John 11:35). So we grieve deeply over death in the present, but as the Apostle Paul says, we “do not grieve as those who have no hope.” We grieve with hope because we know that by the power of the resurrection we will, indeed, see our beloved again. We will, as it were, once again see them pulling up in the driveway for a chat, or come home to find them in their favorite recliner. So, by faith in the promise of the resurrection, we grieve with hope!
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