The Holy Week – Lessons of Pain

Have you ever wondered what the disciples of Christ did on the day after His death on the Cross? The Bible tells us very little about the time between the Crucifixion and Resurrection. It’s the silent time of personal pain for the Lord’s closest friends on earth.

Many of the Lord’s followers felt intense personal pain on the day Jesus died. The disciples had fled when Jesus was arrested. Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times. Most of the disciples were in hiding, except for John.

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:25-27

I can only imagine what John and Mary said to each other after Jesus was carried away to be buried. They had personally witnessed the most horrible event in history – the murder of God’s Son. I don’t know that I would have been able to get any sleep that night – and the next day was probably no better. The leaders of Israel had convinced the Roman government to kill Jesus. Would they be next?

And there were others who felt deep pain about what had happened – including leaders of Israel.

“But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” Luke 23:49-56

“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.” John 19:38-42

Joseph and Nicodemus were opposed to the killing of Jesus, so it must have broken their hearts to see the Lord mistreated and murdered. They did what they could to give Jesus an honorable burial. Joseph and Nicodemus had both been secret disciples of Christ – “for fear of the Jews” – so the Lord’s death may have weighed even heavier on their hearts wondering if there was anything they could have done to stop the killing frenzy. It would have certainly been on their minds during Sabbath worship.

Notice also the women who followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the Lord’s burial tomb. They saw where Jesus’ body was laid, then returned to their homes to prepare spices and fragrant oils to take back to the tomb on the morning after the Sabbath. What pain they must have felt that night and the next day. They loved the Lord and had such hope for what He was going to do accomplish for Israel in the Kingdom He preached.

This was the first Sabbath in years that the disciples had not spent it with Jesus. He was always there to teach, comfort and guide them. The Lord always knew what to do in a tough situation. He knew how to handle opposition. But what happened yesterday threw all the disciples for a loop. Even though Jesus had been telling them for a long time that He was going to Jerusalem to die, they didn’t understand. Now they did. They probably remembered some of what Jesus told them the night before He died.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’ . . .  ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.’  Then some of His disciples said among themselves, ‘What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’? They said therefore, ‘What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.’ Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, ‘Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” John 15:18-25 & 16:17-22

Jesus was right – the disciples were filled with sorrow – they did weep and lament. They understood that part because they were experiencing it just as Jesus said – but what about their sorrow being turned into joy? They didn’t yet understand what was coming next – what they would see with their own eyes the next morning. All they knew at that moment was great sorrow and fear. The disciples may have also remembered these words that Jesus spoke at the Passover Feast –

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”  John 16:1-4

The disciples probably thought they were next in line for arrest, beatings and death. Jesus said it would happen to them – was now the time? Their Messiah was dead. The future of His promised Kingdom in great doubt. What would be next for them?

The disciples may have also remembered what Jesus had said about His leaving and sending the Holy Spirit to help them in their service to God. Those words may have been some comfort on that Sabbath day after the Lord’s Crucifixion.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” . . . Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me;  of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. John 15:26-27 & 16:7-15

The Lord’s disciples had seen so much in their time with Jesus. Even though He was dead and their future was in question, they may talked with each other about the great promises the Lord had given them. They believed He was God’s Anointed One – the Promised Messiah. They believed God would do all that He said He would do. They didn’t understand why things had happened as they did, but they may have had some hope that God would do as He promised.

Tomorrow – they would see that God keeps His Promises!

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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2 thoughts on “The Holy Week – Lessons of Pain

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