The longest day in the history of the world had to be for the people who followed Jesus the day after he died. The disaster they felt in their souls. The deep ache of their beloved friend now gone. The devastation they felt as the Savior of the World, their Lord and Master was on the other side of a stone in a tomb. They had bet the farm on Jesus. They left everything for Jesus. They believed Jesus was everything for them. Now, he was gone, and it felt like the hope they held so tightly in hand had slipped through their fingers and vanished into the night.
We all have moments when we say, “What just happened?” The day when hope turns into hopelessness. In those moments, darkness closes in as our realities or dreams are crushed. This is true in loss. In heartbreak. In the grave.
Bewildered. Devastated. Crushed.
We can be there in a moment. We may feel like we’ll be there forever. Those followers and friends of Jesus must have felt this, but Jesus had something more in store for them.
Early in the morning before the sun came up the next day, the third day, Heaven laid waste to the darkest day of humanity. In love, redemption, courage, and hope, Jesus was raised from the dead. The Resurrection of the Son of God is the Hope of Heaven and Humanity speaks a final word that all things are not lost, and all things will be made right. Things that die can live again, and the ache is not without comfort.
On that day, the third day from Jesus death, and the first day of the week, Mary, one of Jesus followers showed up at the tomb, looking for Jesus. The Scripture in John 20 says,
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:11-17
There came a point in the story when Mary went from crying in the dark to seeing in the soft light before dawn. The angels were visible to Mary. The shape of a man, a gardener, was even seen. Maybe just the outline of him. The glow of a new sunrise was on the horizon, and the faint light before the rising sun told the story to Mary as Jesus said her name. All was not lost. This was not the end. There is Resurrection.
Truth. Comfort. Hope.
When you experience unexpected loss, the feeling of disaster may overwhelm you. When your heart is broken, your dreams may feel destroyed and devastation sets in. When you approach the grave of one you love, there can be an ache greater than you could imagine and your soul may just feel crushed.
When the darkest of nights sets in, then you will feel the weight and burden of the darkness. Even then, may peace like a quiet comfort slip into your soul. There is a day coming when all that is wrong is made right. This is not the end of all things. A faint light appears on the horizon. It is dim warmth of the rising sun, a reminder that even in the dark God is working. A reminder that there is hope and a future no matter the moment.
Hope rises with the dawn.