You will go to your Good Friday service, and honor the death of Christ on the cross. After that, you have one day to prepare for Easter Sunday, a day when you celebrate the good news of the resurrection. What seems like a pretty normal and fun day to us must have seemed like an eternity for the disciples. Have you ever put much thought into what they went through between the crucifixion and the resurrection?
Simon Peter was one of the most vocally loyal disciples. He was willing to put up a fight when Jesus was arrested (John 18:10). Yet, we know that even Peter denied that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27). What changed so suddenly for him? Was it that he suddenly feared for his life? He knew that Jesus was the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16-17), but during the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, he was willing to walk away, and deny that he knew Jesus. What would it have been like for him that next day, believing that the Son of the Living God was dead?
John, who is also known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. He stood at the foot of the cross even during those final hours (John 19:25-27). What was that next day like for John? Surely he wept and mourned, for the Messiah he followed faced a certain death. Being a faithful disciple of someone who was just crucified, did he expect they would come for him next? Did he go into hiding?
From sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday was the Sabbath day for Jewish followers. Did the disciples observe the Sabbath? Did they even want to show their face around a synagogue knowing the repercussions of being associated with Jesus?
We know how the story ends, but let’s not forget the steps in between. Even though Jesus spoke of his death and resurrection plainly in his lifetime, it was difficult for Jewish believers in his time to grasp what he meant. The resurrection was thought to be a future event (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). While the Pharisees at the time accepted the resurrection, the Sadducees didn’t even believe it would happen. With the common view being to expect a future resurrection, did the disciples anticipate their savior would return in their lifetime? So many of them were baffled to see his return. Thomas didn’t believe it until he saw with his own eyes (John 20:25-29). How did they spend their Sabbath? After the death of Jesus, they could have been trying to figure out their next steps, determining how to survive being labeled disciples of the crucified Messiah. Not knowing what was going to happen the next day is what made that remarkable day in between so significant. For them, that one day was the beginning of the end.
When we look back on it today, we have hope because we know the end. Try to imagine what it was like for them, in that time, to not know. Imagine seeing the stone rolled in front of the tomb with no expectation that would ever be rolled away. Imagine going about your day believing the man you followed as savior was sealed in a tomb. Imagine waking up the next day to find out you were wrong, that death wasn’t the end, and the story continues.
As you get ready for Easter this year, what aspect of the account of the resurrection of Jesus strikes you the most? Do you see yourself as John or Peter? How would you have done after seeing Jesus crucified?
I began my career with Mardel in 2006, while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. While I love to write fiction and convey stories through novels, I also have a passion for studying philosophy, theology, and apologetics. I enjoy the faith-building resources available at Mardel, and look forward to sharing what new topics and information I’m learning.