We are living in unique times. One day, I can be full of hope and gratitude only to wake up the next day with a hopeless and weary feeling. Life is full of surprises, but there is a constant in the midst of the unknown or craziness.
This week is known as Holy Week, the time between Palm Sunday and Easter; which is the day we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. As we look at Luke’s account of Jesus’ last moments on earth up until His very last breath, what we will see is that hope didn’t end there.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. ~Luke 23:44-46
Can you imagine darkness covering the whole land?
One moment, you feel the heat of the day and then suddenly, dark clouds cover Jerusalem and the sky turns black for three hours. The sudden darkness was all encompassing.
If you are standing in a dark room and turn on the light the darkness surrenders to light. But here, we see that the darkness of Calvary was so intense that it smothered the light. It looked hopeless.
Matthew’s account says, “…the earth shook, and the rocks split.” Jesus’ death was such a dramatic event that even the earth reacted to it. Jesus took his last breath. It was over.
This did not look like victory, this looked like defeat.
I wonder how the disciples felt. What do you do when all of your hopes are dashed? Their friend, their teacher, the man that they left their lives behind to follow, all that they believed had come from God- was dead.
That same week, on Palm Sunday they were celebrating Jesus as King. Shouting Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king! He was their King; their hero, their Hope.
All the things they believed about Him came crashing down.
Many times Jesus told the disciples His plans, but they could not understand that He would die as King. They must have felt like all was lost. Where was the hope?
The hope was the fact that this was God’s plan all along.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. John 3:16
For God so loved… us. This is a life altering kind of love. The kind of love that sacrifices in order to restore.
On Friday, they may have put Him in the grave. It may have looked hopeless as though His enemies had the best of Him. But God was still at work.
At the time, the disciples couldn’t see the bigger story that God was writing. All they saw was the darkness in front of them. But the light of HOPE and great power was about to break through.
I find so much hope today with that truth. We can’t always see the bigger story that God is writing either. Sometimes, all we see is darkness.
That day was filled with darkness, Jesus had died, but God was still at work. What looked dark and hopeless was actually the day that changed history!
The cross changes everything.
The cross may have looked like defeat but it was indeed a victory. God’s greatest display of love and grace was demonstrated through Jesus that day. Friday was really the road to Sunday.
The grave could not hold Him, death couldn’t contain Him! On the 3rd day, He came out of the grave! He conquered death and he rose to life!!! Jesus declared, “It is Finished”.
On that day… death…died with our King.
We have victory over death! That alone gives us amazing hope! Yet, that wasn’t all we gained that day.
As we read in Luke, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The Holy of Holies was an inner room of the temple, where God’s presence was in the midst of the people. This inner room was guarded by a curtain that was 60 ft high by 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick.
The curtain was a barrier between man and God and only the high priest could enter once a year and only with a blood sacrifice. Luke tells us the veil was torn. It was no longer necessary for continual sacrifice, for Jesus had settled that forever!
God Himself ripped the curtain of the temple in half, from the top to the bottom declaring that the way to the very presence of God was available to everyone who came to Him through Jesus! Jesus said, “I have come so that you can have life to the full”. In His presence there is fullness of joy.
Sunday wasn’t an end, it was a beginning.
The same God that took Jesus from Friday to Sunday is the same God that is still at work in our lives today in the midst of Covid19.
Whether you are currently seeing victory or experiencing defeat in your life right now, God is faithful to complete what He has started in all of us.
This week, as we reflect on the cross, we also have the HOPE of knowing that God is still at work in our lives, in our world. Right here, right now, wherever you are.
Even in the midst of quarantine, in the midst of financial uncertainty, in the midst of fear, or in the midst of grief.
God is at work in our lives telling His story of redemption.
As we experience Easter at home this Sunday, may we focus on the hope that Christ brought into the world through His death and resurrection.
The fullness of life with God doesn’t exist as a distant thought; through Jesus He is a near and present reality. It is in Him that our hope lies.