As the suns sets on the day of our Lord's death, the Sabbath begins. We leave our Good Friday services unfulfilled and greatly agitated, much like Jesus in his hours of prayers in Gethsemane. And our souls shall remain unfulfilled and agitated throughout the Sabbath, until the sun rises on Easter morning.
It is a time of waiting. Our souls are filled with the hope, the anticipation, the faith that what God has promised will be fulfilled. Believing in that promise is all we can do. Believing that the promise will be fulfilled, that the agitation will cease.
We have few words from Scripture telling us what the disciples did that Sabbath day. The days that came before it must have passed by so quickly - Jesus' grand entrance into Jerusalem with shouting and praise; his powerful lessons and prophesies on what was to come to the holy city, to the temple, to his beloved followers, to his own self. Then that final supper, like so many Passover meals before it, and yet so different at the same time. Then, as the food from that meal had just begun to settle into their stomachs, the betrayal and arrest of their beloved teacher.
How their hearts must have beat as Jesus was taken up and questioned, mocked and beaten! How their stomachs must have churched as they watched him walk to his death, on a cross in between two criminals!
And then, the moment of his death. As he cried out his final words - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?! - it must have seemed that the whole world stopped. In place of the cries of the dying was the silence of the dead.
Did they part from one another then? Go their separate ways for the Sabbath, to sit in silence with their loved ones? Or did they remain together to pray and grieve as a family, a community brought together by the one whose life had just been brought to a sudden, violent end?
Did they mourn in silence, or did they, too, cry out to God? Why, God, why? Why have you forsaken your son? Why have you forsaken your people?
As they waited, did they hold onto the promise of his return? Did they in their grief and agitation, grasp it with their every fiber, believing without understanding why, that the words their beloved rabbi spoke would be true? That on the third day, he would rise?
As we wait these hours for the sun to rise on Easter morning, and for the promise to be fulfilled, we should think of the disciples as they sat in those silent hours, waiting for the fulfillment of a promise they had dared to believe in. Waiting for the agitation in their souls to calm. Waiting for an end to their uncertainty, and the beginning of a new world they could hardly imagine.
Do we dare join them in their belief?