I am writing this on Easter Saturday before the great Easter Sunday where we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. This day is seen as the day where we remember Jesus descending to Hades. We can debate the timing of all this but what is a fact is that we see a silence between His Death and His Resurrection. This silence is spiritual, is soul destroying for the disciples and Jesus’ followers.
We know this silence, this breaking of hope, this disillusionment, because Luke 24 tells us. As I began to meditate on this silence, there have been many seasons and generations where silence has reigned. This silence reigns because God is responding to the backsliding of His people, or changing the season. Throughout history, Church history we see many long periods of silence. The silence I speak is those times when those who are Voices for the Lord are silent. They do not come with a fiery message of correction, of enlightening. In those times of silence it seems that God uses an obscure and hidden people to be an audience for the plans and purposes of God. We have spoken much concerning Anna and Simeon in Luke 2, we have spoken concerning John the Baptist who left the priestly house to the wilderness. We have in times past examined Elijah and his extended time at Cherith being fed by the ravens and drank from the brook. All these are times when prayer is the only preparation and God pauses using His prophets to speak out to the nations.
The silence surround Jesus’ death is to shatter political ambitions and the restoration of Israel, to bring in a spiritual vision and a aspiration for a spiritual Israel
Luke 24 shows us how earth shattering the death of Jesus was to those who saw a political aspiration through the mission of Jesus. How shattering that One who healed the sick died a horrible death. Then when we mirror that when we evaluate what our lives have been for the last year. I remember we went into Easter last year fresh into a new experience called lockdown, we all thought it was for the common good, never really expecting we would still be in this scenario a year on. Now it seems the virus has become politicised throughout the world, we know more about it now, yet it is still feared. Even though there is a 99% chance of recovery still have countries that have closed down. The world in Jesus’ day was overun by the Roman Empire, and local groups of zealots desired their overthrow. The oppression over different nations of the empire felt this imposition. Jesus therefore came within a context of a cauldron bubbling with revolution. This aspiration was shattered through His cruel death.
When Jesus approaches the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus He was not recognised, was expounding the Word from a prophetic perspective. They saw that this earth shattering event was spoken so clearly of. What was thought to be a normal natural process was ordained of God to start to bring in a Spiritual Temple, a Spiritual Restoration, a Spiritual Israel. All this in the shadow and silence of death.
In the scenario of the Churches this last year being reduced to online activities and buildings closed, people slowly leaving the Churches for lack of personal contact, is a scenario surely prophesied in the Word. God was not surprised by this watershed experience. It certainly felt like a dark time of “wrath” as we were told not to leave our homes and when we went to the hypermarkets we saw empty shelves, rationing, society had become a war zone. The darkness of “wrath” pervaded the atmosphere, and people began to mould their lives around the central pillar of fear. It seems that the Word correctly described this as “the beginning of sorrows“. Yet those who were praying, interceding in those dark days, when work away, journeys, normal life was suspended, began to see a higher purpose. It is today precisely in the shattering of Jesus’ death, the holy Sabbath of that Saturday, before the Resurrection that the hearts of His followers was laid bare, the disciples confined to the Upper Room.
The same Upper Room where Jesus spoke about a Kingdom, where He cleansed all their feet, where He served the Bread, and passed the Cup of Blessing. The same Upper Room that He spoke of heavenly things, those things spoken disappeared as a passing mist as Judas kissed Jesus in the Garden, all the intimacy of that night passed away into the sea of forgetfulness. The same Upper Room where He spoke of the interconnecting destiny and nature they had with Him, the Comforter that was to come. Now they are in the darkness of that same place, for fear of the Jews.
And those two disciples dared to venture out to Emmaus, what were they journeying for? Was it to give up those spiritual aspirations? Was it to give up the new found faith they had in Christ? Did they consider that they were deceived by their own impression of Him? Did they miss something? In the midst of that myriad of doubts, defeats and disappointments did the unrecognised Jesus come close. He was unrecognised because their vision was of death, and this Jesus was now with His Resurrected Body…eternal Body…for this reason He ascended…so they could not see Him…they only saw Him in their hearts by the Word He opened up. And saw Him at the Covenant Table, lifting the Bread did their eyes open.
Before all this happens we must go through the death process…we must descend with Him, so that in descending with Him we ascend in similar fashion to spiritual and heavenly vision. So much before this pandemic was about building and expanding, yet all was forced into closure and limitation. We must walk with Jesus in every place and in every dimension. This is why the Holy Saturday is necessary. We cannot see Jesus in our heart until we receive His Word. We cannot see Him until we see Him lift the Bread of His Body and perceive that what He lifted and blessed was His Church!!! Heavenly and covenanted.
Indeed what Jesus did in the village house, He presented the table again before the enemies of their hearts and their lives, death, deception, disillusionment. Now He is lifting a spiritual Kingdom, a Spiritual Israel before their eyes, to a Jesus, the King who overcame death!!!
In the shadow of death does He bring His People out
Jesus’ death and its timing is so precise, because it comes as the people celebrated the Feast of Passover when the people left Egypt after death passed over the houses of the Covenant People to kill the firstborn of Egypt. In the shadow of Jesus’ death we are brought out of our “Egypt” to our promise. This Holy Saturday was the fulness of this remembrance. Now the people were free from being the children of Israel to transition to being a nation. How much us, through Christ we are transitioning to the fulness of our holy vocation as a Holy and Royal Priesthood. In this time in the “shadow” of this pandemic, we are coming out to be the people of God, we are journeying to separation from all that which is Egypt so that we may arrive in our Promise taking with us our “Tabernacle” of His Glory in our hearts.
In the shadow of sacrifice is the Holy Paraclete Promised
The whole process of Redemption must pass through suffering and death. Yet at the end our hearts will be immersed in the Spirit sent by Christ. Jesus in John 14 talks about His going away so that He may come in a fuller way. The process for the disciples is of unimaginable pain and anguish, the failure of some, the flight of some, the hiding of all. Yet Jesus in it all has a greater purpose, because at the end of all this, in their embracing of His Word over 40 days would prepare them not just to receive the physical Jesus again but receive Him in ways not foreseen through His Holy Spirit. This must give us hope that in the most painful of situation as we allow Him to visit us, He will prepare us for heavenly places and heavenly abodes, so that in that place we can be immersed in His Spirit. David in Psalm 23 must speak into this process, in that passing the shadow, he now comes to the Table that is prepared before the enemy. Now in that table David sees his cup filled to overflowing. How much more in this place we see God prepare our Table of Covenant so we see an overflow of His New Wine. How Psalm 23 fits into the life of the Shepherd.
Modern Theology denies the process of suffering which leads to eternal grief, yet the true Word tells us to embracing the passing pain for eternal weight of His Being
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4 that our momentary and light affliction will work a process of glory, and eternity which will filter through our lives. This modernistic flight from understanding the process of pain and suffering brings us a immaturity, because noone likes pain, noone likes suffering…however our greatest example is Jesus, who according to Hebrews 12 despised the shame, endured the pain. He is now sat as King, and Lord at the Right Hand of the Father. Easter shows us that through pain we embrace our eternal position, our eternal privilege, and eternal destiny.