Life got in the way last week and I was unable to post the iPod Devotional. A tweet from Frank Viola about the best resurrection song ever was going to be my reflection. I had been thinking and continue to think about that day that some call “Holy Saturday”. Others call the day after the Crucifixion “Black Saturday” and that surely better represents the feelings of those who had followed Jesus on earth.
I tried to imagine what the Apostles were feeling on that Saturday. They must have felt crushing grief. They must have kept thinking that Jesus did not deserve to die like that. I imagine that shame overwhelmed them. They no doubt wondered if they could have done something to prevent such a devastating, ignominious end to a movement that once seemed so full of hope. I suspect there was some self-pity. Human nature would dictate that those closest to Jesus feared that suffering was facing them. They likely wondered how they could find work and a normal life after being so identified with Jesus. They probably felt some self-loathing and wondered how they could have “wasted” three years to follow this man who had somehow talked them into dropping everything to follow him. They must have bitterly wondered what they had been thinking when they said yes.
I cannot really imagine the agony of that miserable, sorrowful Saturday. They might have remembered some of the odd things Jesus had said about how He needed to go and it was better for Him to go. But what did that mean? He was dead. In the tomb. It was over. A complete waste.
They did not know that Sunday was coming. Oh, they knew that the next day was coming but not that Sunday would represent the greatest event in history. Without that Sunday Paul said our faith is meaningless.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.” (I Corinthians 15, NLT)
That is why the song called “He’s Alive” that Frank Viola tweeted about resonated so much with my recent meditations. I had forgotten about the song that was written in 1977. The lyrics by Don Francisco are powerfully written from Peter’s perspective.
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin' through
To drag us all away
You can feel Peter’s agony and fear. The writer goes on to imagine his devastating shame even after the tomb was found empty. Can you imagine his pain? If Jesus is alive He will have nothing to do with me. I denied Him. Three times. And then I ran away.
Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I'd promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
And even if He was alive
It wouldn't be the same
How many times have I falsely thought that my relationship with Jesus could never be the same because of my sin? Just like Peter I would recall everything I had promised Him and my failure to live up to those promises just added to my shame.
A few years ago I began, slowly, to grasp the enormity and all-encompassing depth of His grace. When I did the following lyrics represented my experience as well.
Then He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
The love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I'd ever had
Just melted into peace
He’s alive, yes, He’s alive!
I keep thinking about that somber Saturday. Many times when we follow Jesus we find ourselves in deep sorrow just like His followers on that dreadful Friday. We cry out only to encounter silence not unlike His beloved children did on that sad Saturday. But if we keep trusting then we will find the same truth that Peter and the others discovered on Sunday.