We sit here in Central Asia in the final hours of Lent. We've journeyed now through the season. We've seen Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, and ride into Jerusalem.
Then came today.
We caught up with Him in Gethsamene last night. Anguished. Broken.
And, then. One of our own. One not all that different than me. Betrays Him. Calls Him Rabbi, and then kisses Him.
We listened through the side hallway as the Sanheddrin, then Pilate put Him on trial. Such a sham of justice. No witnesses. No corroborating evidence.
We were in the crowd. People all around us yelling, “Crucify Him.”
We fell to our knees in stunned silence as we heard the verdict. “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty. … “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find him not guilty.” (John 19:4, 6 (NLT))
We followed along behind as they forced Him to carry His own cross. Afraid He would die before reaching Skull Hill, they forced a stranger named Simon to help Him.
And there on that Hill, we watched as He was nailed to that cross.
We heard His words.
We watched Him die.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea came and buried Him. They were disciples, but had stayed that way in secret. Now, they aren't hiding it.
And now, we sit in silence. Wondering what's next. Trying to have hope. We watched Him raise Lazarus. We heard Him talk about resurrection.
Hope that this death–like Lazarus'–isn't an end. Hope that this death is but a beginning. Hope of His–and our–resurrection.
Hope. Joyful and confident expectancy in God's goodness.
The same Hope that brought us to the manager. In awe that the fulfillment of the greatest promise in history had finally come. Is this Him? After all these years? Has Emmanuel finally come?
The same hope that brought us into Jerusalem following Him riding a donkey less than a week ago. Is this Him? Our glorious King? Is this the day that His kingdom will be established?
The same hope that brought us to the tomb of His friend, Lazarus. The same hope that watched as Lazarus hobbled out of that tomb.
And, now, at the mouth of another tomb, we wait in silent hope.
And, we light the candle.
Huddled in a quiet and dark place. Hoping that the knock at the door is a friend and not a foe. Could we be the next to die? Will they round the rest of us up now? These same questions are being asked right now in a very real sense by people all over the world.
And, silently. We wait. We pray.
We hope in silence that the morning will release us from the tension of living between the now and the not yet.
Suspended between the death of the promise–that promise that only a few months ago we celebrated by the lighting of this candle–and the hope of a new promise. A new kingdom. A new life.
And in that suspended place, we sit in silence. In darkness. In hope.
We hope in our silence that the morning will bring us news of God's unfailing love.
But, for tonight we mourn.