The sun hid her face at noonday that Friday so long ago … for the Son, the Light of the world was about to be extinguished. Darkness fell across the land, mirroring the darkest battle in all of history – the most shocking transaction in the universe.
God, the Maker of all things, said, “Yes. I will give my perfect Son in exchange for filthy, sinful, wretched souls from the past, present, and future. All of their guilt and shame and wrongdoing will lay heavy upon the only One who never did anything wrong.”
Each one of us would howl pretty quickly if we got blamed for something we didn’t do. We would fight for our own innocence and defend ourselves to the end – our internal justice meters instinctively crying out when we saw punishment going to the wrong person.
And yet Christ took it on willingly. He never once opened His mouth to defend Himself (cf. Isaiah 53:7) or prove them wrong or even whisper of the amazing substitutionary transaction that was taking place. The most perfect self-control silently led Him straight to the cross because of His selfless, perfect love.
Romans 5:7-8 says, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He saw that we had no hope. He knew there was no way we could ever make our sin debt right. And love shone from His eyes as He cried, “It is finished!” and bowed His head.
So the earth shook and the curtain tore in two. The women wept and the centurion marveled. In sorrow, they took His bloody body gently from the cross and laid it inside a tomb. And Friday drew to a terrible, numbing end. They wept through the following day, the Sabbath.
They didn’t know that Sunday was coming – the most joyous day in history. He had told them, but they had no idea what He meant. For them, the story had ended in the most tragic of ways. The unthinkable had happened – their Friend, the One in whom they had trusted and followed had been mercilessly killed and there was nothing they could do about it. This was not the way they had imagined the story ending.
But then again – God never does things the way we expect Him to, does He? His creativity and perfect plans far outweigh even our deepest longings.
We expect a king with a crown of jewels – He gives us a King with a crown of thorns.
We expect a king who puts to death his tormentors – He gives us a King who dies for His tormentors.
We expect a king who triumphs over a corrupt government – He gives us a King who triumphs over death itself.
For Sunday always comes. The victory of Christ’s resurrection sings sweeter than any song we’ve ever heard. He allowed Himself to be put cruelly to death on Friday, but Friday wasn’t the end of the story. He held the ending sweetly in check – and it burst forth from the grave with a glorious sunrise on Sunday – the conquering King emerging with splendid glory. No government, no angry mob, no soldiers standing by, no heavy tombstones, no traitor or move of Satan could keep our Lord and Savior in the grave. He had the final say.
When we feel like the sun has set in our lives, we must remember this beautiful promise of the crucifixion and resurrection. What might feel like a terminal end might be the only way to a new beginning. What might be devastating right now in the darkness of Friday’s night might be the pathway to a new dawn of hope just around the corner. Our sovereign Lord is so adept at taking the ashes of our brokenness and forming new life where none seems to be left at all.
The disciples and the faithful women were left weeping in agony when the body of Christ was laid silently in the grave. They thought they had been utterly abandoned by the One who knew them best. But on the contrary – the One who knew them best knew that His death was the only way for them to be forever with Him.
This is why we can trust with absolute certainty the God who makes no mistakes – who is in control of every disaster and heartache – and who designs with great care our pathways through life. These pathways will include trials, but no trial is too great for the Savior who bore them all to the grave and rose victorious over all of them.
So when we think the darkness of Friday is all that is left … bow your head and wait, Christian.
He always brings a sunrise on Sunday.