From Darkness to Light

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

The room was dark. The disciples panted for breath, making no effort to light a lamp. All found their own corner or piece of wall to hunker down and ease their pounding hearts, the sound of those approaching boots still in their memories.

The sight of Judas walking to Jesus in the garden haunted them. The audacity of him to betray Jesus with a kiss. How could he? But then, how could each follower of the Master slip back into the bushes to hide? Not to mention running away in the night. They were betrayers too, in a way.

Matthew heard a whimper, heavy sighs, quiet weeping, but no one spoke a word. Each burying himself in his own emotions.

What would happen to Jesus now? Where were they taking him? Helplessness bore down on each man, fear and worry. Darkness.

Finally, Matthew decided he should count to be sure they all made it. He lit the lamp and counted. “There are nine of us,” he said. “Judas is gone. Peter and John are missing.” The others looked around the room. Matthew was right. Something to think about, besides themselves.

Exhaustion at this late hour overtook them and each man fell into fretful sleep.

Sometime after the crow of the morning cock, Peter came staggering into the room, wild with grief and anxiety. Shortly after, John came in with the news that after a mock trial of the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders had taken Jesus to Pilate. The leaders were stirring up the crowd to urge Pilate to crucify Jesus. Could this madness get any worse?

Darkness at noon.

Three hours later, John came back with the horrifying account of Jesus’ death: crown of thorns, flogging, dragging his own crossbeam, nailed to the cross, his mother weeping for her son.

Darkness.

Night came again.  Then the long Sabbath day. No word. No peace. More agonizing questions.

[You and I have experienced darkness in the last few weeks. Questions. How long will we be held in, hardy able to get out? Fear of the invisible virus sneaking around to destroy us. We wait.]

On the first day of the week, strange reports from the women, the tomb empty —body stolen? Risen, they said. Peter and John run to see for themselves. Yes, an empty tomb, but the men couldn’t wrap their heads around the word “risen.”

That evening, in the midst of their locked-door room, Jesus himself appears to them. His first words?

“Peace be with you!” He showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed. John 20:19

Glorious light! Joyful light came into that room and into their hearts.

            

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21

That glorious light comes to us on this Easter week—even in quarantine—and all through the year. He says to us, “Peace be with you.” He sends us as well. Make your phone calls, send your letters, cards, emails, and texts. Give your donations, make your masks, pick up groceries, whatever he calls you to do. Walk in the light!

A blessed Easter to you,

~ Joyce ~

Easter – The Pain Before the Joy

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We settled into the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus walked further in to pray. I felt somewhat relieved that we were outside the city wall of Jerusalem, away from the religious rulers and their antagonistic attitudes. With a busy week and now the late hour, we all tried to follow His advice to “keep watch”, but sleep overtook us.

I felt the thump of marching feet and then heard voices. When I opened my eyes, shadowy lantern light flickered this way and that across the twisted branches of the olive trees in the garden. I poked Thomas and Nathaniel as I jumped up.

It looked like a huge crowd coming up the path with torches and the sound of swords clanging against each other. Terrified, we pushed back into the bushes. Then we heard Jesus voice, speaking to Peter, James, and John.

“Look the hour is near, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:45-46

We pushed deeper into the bushes. The entourage of Temple guards and religious leaders stopped when Jesus called out,

“Who is it you want?” 

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. John 18:4-5

It was then that I saw Judas was with them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him,

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48

The soldiers stepped forward and arrested Jesus. Some kind of skirmish ensued. It sounded like Peter’s voice and Jesus rebuking him. Before we could understand what was going on they left with Jesus.

We were speechless and totally lacking courage as we sat hunkered down in the bushes.

The other disciples slowly emerged from their hiding places and I did a head count—only nine of us. Peter and John were missing—and of course, Judas. We  wandered back to Jerusalem, slipping around in the shadows of the night.

Early in the morning, we heard voices that grew into a crowd. Pulling our cloak hoods over our heads, we slipped out, blending into the crowd. Pilate stepped out on a portico asking questions of the religious leaders.

What does Pilate have to do with anything? I wondered. As things escalated and the leaders began stirring up the crowd, I soon realized why they had Pilate involved. Only he could hand Jesus over to be crucified. How could it have come to this?

I saw John across the way, his arm around Mary, Jesus’ mother. Some of the other women stood with her, hearing the insults of the leaders and the crowd.

The next time they brought Jesus out, he had been flogged. His face was bloodied by a crown of sorts with thorns sticking into his head. I felt sick. There I was lost in the crowd, doing nothing to help him. We all retreated to the upper room, stunned and frightened.

Later, Peter came in, looking pale. “They’ve done it,” he said. “Crucifixion.” He stumbled to a corner of the room and broke down in uncontrollable tears. My heart felt as if would break in two. What were we to do without Him?

~ Joyce ~