darkness

I don’t remember being afraid of the dark when I was little. I do remember knowing without doubt that there were alligators under my bed and I had magic, invisible stepping stones from my bed to the bathroom if I had to get up in the night.

The disciples of Jesus knew a darkness none of us has to know. From about 3 in the afternoon of Good Friday until Easter morning. Jesus had told them He would leave them. He had told them He would be betrayed. They did not understand what He was saying. So when Judas brought the soldiers to arrest Jesus in the garden the disciples fled. All but two– Peter and John. And Peter denied ever knowing Him.

They watched Him painfully dragging the crossbeam upon which He would die. Those who were with Him at His crucifixion saw the nails driven through His battered flesh and watched, waiting, until He cried out and died.

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They left Him. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, two men known to have secretly visited Jesus with Pilate’s permission took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a tomb. The priests, afraid His disciples would play some trick and steal his body out of the tomb asked Pilate to set a watchman. Pilate told the priests to seal the tomb and watch for themselves. Which they did.

Jesus was dead. He was in hell. He was separated from God the Father. None of His followers knew what would happen. None knew what to believe. I know that I would not have known either.

Even the women who stayed by Him on the cross, Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother and Mary, wife of Cleopas did not know. Because Easter morning two of them went to see what they could do for Jesus in His burial but when they arrived the stone was rolled away. The tomb was open. An angel sitting there inside the tomb said to them “He is not here, He has risen, as He said.”

And then He began to appear to others– these women, frightened, alone, then His disciples, then about 500 other believers. He spoke and ate with them. They saw His body again. With pierced hands, feet, side. And they began to understand exactly Who He was. What He did.

The unimaginable pain of scourging. The suffocation on the cross. The humiliation of punishment for sins He did not commit. All for love of us. Then nothing. Darkness. His spirit in hell, separated from His eternal relationship with God, the Father.

He suffered all of this, even hell, so we won’t ever have to.

Only if we believe. And follow.

Love and serve.

It isn’t magic. It’s holy. And I am only human but I go to Him often. I tell Him my heart and plead that He will help me keep a soft heart. For Him. For you. For me. Forever.

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