Author: Beth
•Saturday, April 07, 2012

Light disappears. The sun sinks lower as the darkness closes in. Evening is shrouded in black; night falling close.

I wonder what those women were thinking that first night, so many years ago.

Here was their King -- their beloved Hope -- cold, limp, and unresponsive. They had stood, huddled in unavoidable horror, watching the darkness fall, the gut-wrenching whispers of pain, the blood flowing freely, the last shuddering breath. Slow. Agonizing. Time seeming to stand still as the reality is seared into every soul watching. 

Few things compare to that gut-feeling when you gaze at a shell of a body -- the outward waste that has been left behind. Touching a loved one and, for the first time, not receiving any warmth of response. That recoiling of heart, knowing that the lungs will never expand again with life-giving oxygen, that the blood has ceased pumping from the heart...and that the soul that makes a person alive is gone. Nothing is left but decaying cells. How can someone utter words to fill that void?

"And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things....The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid." [Luke 23:48-49, 55]

Was there a moon out that night? Stars? Anything to lift their gaze heavenward?  The echoes of a conversation that would take place a few days later undoubtedly rang in their hearts... "We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel." [Luke 24:21]  
We had hoped.

Hope shattered. Hope bleeding out and drying up. 

Those women, hearts swelling with tears, had walked home sometime that night -- each with their own memories. They had walked in the same dust that He had walked all across the Galilean countryside. He had spoken hope into their very souls. Their lives were not the same because of His words, His looks, His touch. [Luke 8:1-3]. Now, their hearts were torn with the sting of death and their nostrils filled with the odor of spices for burial. 

How does one, when hope seems gone, learn how to walk on in love? How is it that the ugliness and wrenching pain of death and sacrifice dissolve into something pleasing before the Throne?  

Years later, Paul would pen this verse to a church in Ephesus, urging them to "walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." [Ephesians 5:2]

As they lay awake that night, perhaps with recollections flooding their subconscious, what did they remember about this Jesus man? Did they recall the glory days of what He had done for them -- the moment when all became clear and free? Did they trust who He said He was when it was the bleakest moment of their lives?

One long night followed by one long day. Luke reminds us that these women rested on the Sabbath, still obeying the commandment in the midst of their grief. [Luke 23:56]

Hands smelling of spices and ointment, perhaps wiping away a tear, learning how to rest

Perhaps that is the hardest challenge of all - resting out of obedience. Resting when the world seems to be falling apart. Resting when all seems in vain. Resting -- truly resting -- in the arms of a Providence that you cannot yet see. 

Because it was in those moments... when time was ticking forward one agonizing minute at a time ... that Scripture was being fulfilled. What seemed to be the most heartless, cruel, painful, and excruciating event in all of history was in reality swelling with an undercurrent of deepest kindness towards a dark world. Hope that would set the world at right again. 

Love was about to break forth. 

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