All hope was lost.
In just over 24 hours, their world had collapsed. Awakened by loud voices and an armed crowd, they’d watched as Judas kissed Jesus and then stepped back as the King of Kings was bound like a common criminal in the darkness.
There was a flash of quick violence. Peter swung his sword wildly, cutting off an ear of one of the men who’d come to take Jesus away, but Jesus told the disciples to stand down.
And then He did what He always does… He reached out His hand to heal.
Even though this man had come to take Him to a horrific death on a lonely cross, Jesus healed his wound. And then He was led away like a lamb to the slaughter.
In the hours that followed, they realised that Judas had betrayed Jesus, that Peter had denied Him, and that they had all deserted Him in fear, leaving Him alone to face not only death, but all the sorrow of the world.
And so it was Saturday.
They didn’t know it yet, but death was defeated. Sin was forgiven. The cost of our shame was borne. The whole world had changed.
But today they were caught in the between. Between the moment Jesus cried out “It is finished” and the moment Mary would breathlessly tell them, “I have seen the Lord!”
They were wracked with doubt, shaken with fear, and, surely, broken by hope denied. Hiding away, scared for their lives, they must have been trying to make sense of the past three years. They must have felt that all they had dreamt was dead and gone, that the promises they’d believed were dust, that the hope they’d dared to hold on to had slipped from their grasp as surely as life had from His body.
The world had changed. But there would be a long day of grief, sorrow and fear before they knew it.
The in between is devastating… the long Saturday of silence between the angry cries of “Crucify Him!’ and the wondrous calls of “He is alive!”
We often rush from Good Friday to Glorious Sunday so quickly, perhaps without understanding the desert of hope in that place of the yet unseen victory. We long for resurrection, but we can’t bear that death comes first.
As we journey now, towards the third garden, the Garden of the Resurrection, I want to reflect here in the in between.
Where death has been conquered, but we still live in its fear.
Where shame has been covered, but we still feel its sharp rebuke.
Where life is waiting to burst forth, but we still live in the acrid tang of decay.
The truth of Easter is that we never have to stay in the in between again. We never have to live in the gap between all hope destroyed and all hope renewed. We may feel that way as we face sorrow, disappointment, fear, loss… but just as it was true that Saturday so long ago, our feelings in those long days and the darkest of nights are not the end of our story.
For there is a much deeper story being told.
Resurrection will rise with the new morning, and the world will be made new. Our hopes will be met, all promises kept, and, at the darkest moment, our Hero will come… because He’s already proven His love and now we can live in His light.
Today we can leave the in between forever.
Because now, our story is the Resurrection and nothing will ever be the same again.