After a long day on the lake fishing and a really nice dinner with my husband and sons and soon-to-be-daughter-in-love on Friday, I watched the sun fading behind the trees and wondered, what must they have been thinking right about now? All week long, my heart has wondered about Jesus’ disciples and closest earthly friends.
They had left everything behind—fathers, mothers and siblings, family businesses—to follow the Messiah. They had been drawn to Him, “Come and see!” He showed them love like they had never experienced, coupled with the strength of a warrior—and each of them felt completely the focus of that love and fierce protective power. They had seen water turned into wine, the lame able to walk again, blind eyes open and clear, deaf people hear His voice, mute people shout, demons cast out of old and young alike.
Women and children came near to Him without hesitation, drawn by His gentleness, welcomed by His eyes and protected by His Words, “Let them come.”
Then Jairus’ daughter died. Jairus had left her at home so ill to go beg Jesus to come heal her, but his servants rushed to tell him, “She has died; don’t bother the teacher.” Jesus went with Jairus anyway. While the whole family wept, Jesus spoke to her, “Little girl, rise up!” From death to life—with just His word! Then Lazarus, dead in the tomb for four days, came out when Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out!” They had helped unbind Lazarus, taking off the burial clothes and watched the reunion of brother and sisters, family and friends. Stunned and awed again and again by Jesus—what must they have been thinking?
People had poured out in even greater numbers to see Jesus and Lazarus, this man who raised people from the dead and the friend whom He had called from the tomb. The crowds swelled everywhere they went, even as they returned to Jerusalem. While the whole city prepared for Passover, the people began to chant “Hosanna! Save!” as they threw their coats into the road to pave the way for Jesus riding into the Jerusalem He so loved, like a returning king.
When Jesus wanted the foal for His ride into Jerusalem, the disciples had simply said to its owner, “The Master needs it.” When others prepared for weeks to celebrate Passover, to gather the family, to prepare a place and food, Jesus told his disciples to follow a man—and there they found the upper room, prepared and ready for them. “This is just the beginning,” they must have thought.
Before the Passover meal, Jesus, their Messiah who had been cheered into Jerusalem, kneeled before each of them, in turn, to wash their feet. “Love one another,” He whispered as the room fell silent. They basked in His presence, so close, so private after many days surrounded by crowds. “I have yearned to share this Passover with you,” he tells them as they sit at the table. They must have been stunned when the tenor changed so rapidly as Jesus bEgan to prepare for the darkness coming:
“One of you will betray me.”
Still a bit confused by the discussion about who among them could possibly betray Him and bold declarations of who would die for Him and then Judas’ departure to go do something after a quiet, intent discussion with Jesus, they went to Mount Olivet where Jesus had been spending every night recently. Though they tried to stay awake and pray, they dozed—until a band of soldiers arrived. Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest, but Jesus healed the ear—making sure all evidence of a skirmish and any evidence against His friends disappeared. Everyone scattered as Jesus stood arrested. The darkness deepened as Jesus suffered questions and ridicule, beatings and humiliation, separation and abandonment. What must they have been thinking as they scattered? “Before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times.”
As the sun began to rise Friday morning, I wonder how tightly they held on to the hope that Jesus would be freed? When Pilate offered to free Jesus or Barrabas, surely they must have thought the people would choose Jesus. What must they have thought when the leaders shouted out for Barrabas to be freed? Did they keep looking toward heaven praying to see Moses and Elijah come to rescue the One they had seen transfigured between the two prophets?
As they watched from safe distances as Jesus stumbled under the burden of the cross, did they cry out for mercy? As Cyrus lifted the cRoss off His bloody shoulders, did they long for the courage to rush forward and lift one side?
When the earth shook, the sky turned black, and the temple curtain ripped in half, what must they have been thinking?
As Friday faded into darkness, the stone rolled shut over the tomb. Did they sleep at all that night? Surely, they felt lost and confused, grieving for their friend, grieving their broken dreams. How many times did they repeat the prayer Jesus had taught them, His voice strong and gentle, “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed by the name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”
Did their voices break there–on those words, “thy will be done”? Hadn’t they heard Jesus cry out in the Garden just last night, “Not my will but thine be done” with a voice tortured and raw?
As they faced a second night without Jesus nearby, the darkest night in history, did they weep until exhaustion brought the anesthesia of sleep?
How dark and evil did that Friday seem? What must they have been thinking?