-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
Jesus of Nazareth was dead.
It’s difficult for us to imagine today, as those so familiar with the end of the story, the effect those words would have had on the disciples of Jesus. In our hurry to push on to the exciting events of the next chapter, we often fail to feel the disciples’ gut-wrenching despair in a world suddenly without Jesus.
For over three years, these men had spent countless days with this man. They had watched him weep, laugh, and smile. They had eaten with him, talked with him, been scolded by him, and yet always felt his love. This was the man who was God in the flesh, the one who had calmed both the sea and their fears, the one they had watched touch and heal lepers, restore vision to blind eyes, bring power and strength into mangled limbs, and even forgive sins.
This man had called them from their careers to follow him, he had showed them how to pray, revealed God to them, and taught them how to serve. Yet the man who had raised others from the dead was now himself gone, his lifeless body lying stiff in a cold Jerusalem tomb. Could this nightmare be real?
Haunted by their failures to even stay awake with him in Gethsemane and their scattering in terror after his arrest, the grief and guilt the disciples experienced was crushing.
To think that just a few days ago they were with him, watching him teach in the Temple. Closing their eyes, they could still hear his voice. That only the other night, they had eaten dinner together for the last time. And now, looking down at their filthy feet, they could see him stooping again, and washing them. How could this be real, how could he be gone?
As they rehearsed each moment, again and again, it only filled them with more regret and despair. At every rooster’s crow that day, a tough old fisherman wept like a child. Men, once so full of pride and ambition, now lay broken in the stillness of a Jerusalem Sabbath.
Trying in vain to go to sleep Saturday night, the disciples dreaded the thought of waking the next morning to face the same news and feelings. To try to again cope with the unbearable reality of their new world, a world without Jesus. How could this be the end of the story?