How the disciples could have endured the two nights of utter darkness when they questioned all they had believed for the past three years, all they had given up to follow a man who just died, if they only knew that Sunday was coming. Faith, doubt, faith, doubt: It was a rollercoaster ride Jesus took them on, and this was the ultimate plunge over the top, a bottomless, terrifying spiral down. How could one of their best friends betray the man they followed as God? How could he betray them, too? (Luke 22:21-23)
Peter, carrying the heavy burden of his guilt, even knew what he had done when Jesus looked him in the eye (Luke 22:61) and bitter sobs wracked his body. He had been through a lot in his life, but he had never felt the deep heart shattering sorrow of hurting—no, betraying—his best friend. And he could not save him, could not rescue him, and no, he really didn’t want to go to prison or die with Jesus like he thought he could. His courage was a flash of fire, but it disappeared when he realized what that meant. His mother-in-law came to mind, his family’s faces looked him in the eyes, living life screamed at him and he ran—a blanket of smoke smothering his lungs.
Darkness not only filled their souls, it filled the sky, too. Black ominous clouds covered the land in the middle of the afternoon, the sun disappeared, and a cold wind began whipping around the grasses and stirring up dirt. People clutched their cloaks tighter around their shoulder, hair stinging their dusty tear- streaked faces as they stood at a distance watching the limp men hanging on the crosses. Jesus was there in the middle. His body was limp too, blood dripping from his side. Hope died. The brief reign of darkness began. There was no room in their minds for the promise that Sunday was coming.
They forgot that when Jesus said it, it happened. They forgot creation was at Jesus’ beck and call. They forgot the miracles. They forgot the dead people raised to life before their eyes. They forgot Jesus said, “Three days.” Because they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand the promise that Sunday was coming.
So they sat in hopeless mourning for two days—Saturday was the Sabbath, so they could do nothing besides gather together and talk about what had happened. Perhaps they were just silent, wells of tears were dry. Their heads hurt like their brains would explode, yet sleep was elusive. Candles filled the room to futilely chase away the darkness, as the sun did not rise that morning—maybe it never would again. It seemed as though this Sabbath would never end. Someone suggested they talk about planning for the next day’s fishing trip, but no one wanted to even think about fishing; it only brought up memories of Jesus. And then someone broke down into a body shaking sob.
Everyone wanted this nightmare to be over, to wake up the next day and realize it was all a bad dream. That Jesus really wasn’t dead. That they really could hope their sins were forgiven and that the promise of eternal life was really theirs. That their lives would mean something for eternity and that their three years with the Messiah would make a difference in the world. They didn’t realize there was just one more night.
Then Sunday was coming.