In the waiting

On this holy weekend this year, a lot of thought and reflection goes into Good Friday and Easter Sunday- for good reason. Our faith and salvation hinges upon these two days. Without them, "our preaching is useless and so is your faith." But what of Saturday?

Saturday was the first sabbath day in three years these disciples had spent without their rabbi and friend. Saturday was a day of mourning, but also of confusion- "But we had hoped..."s and "What if.."s probably sprinkled the little conversation they had. They faced guilt- running away and letting all this happen. Peter, especially, was ashamed of his denial. They wondered why their Messiah didn't 'call down legions of angels' like he said he could- and they knew his power. They wonder what happened to the Messiah with 'the government on his shoulders'. A dead Messiah couldn't take out Rome. The ridicule he faced all day Friday played over and over in their minds. They're angry, but also afraid- this is what they will face if they're ever found out. And so they hid.

I feel like there are many times that I live in the Saturday. I mean, I celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection at conversion, and every Easter, and every time I reflect on Communion, but the rest of the time I have doubts and fears and unknowns ahead of me. To think, this is the only day in eternity that God the Son was dead, the eternal three-in-one relationship severed. It's the waiting, the in-between time that's the hardest, really. Between the tragedy and the hindsight lessons, between the failure and the "everything working out in the end", between the loss and the found, between the rejection and the new opportunity, I lock myself in my room to hide, like Jesus' friends did. Like the disciples, I trust Jesus' promises intellectually, but I'm still left waiting, in a very scary limbo. Unlike the disciples, I have the Holy Spirit with me all the time for comfort, but that doesn't make my nature less prone to worrying in the waiting.


ashley said...

AMEN! Excellent post. I can completely identify with what you are saying. Thank you for the reminder.

James Kubecki said...

You know, I was going to write a long post on my own blog about this, and how I'm struggling between:

1. Correcting what is (what I perceive to be) incorrect theology, that Christ was separated from the Father and the Spirit between His death and resurrection.
2. Comforting and reassuring and building up your hope, as a brother in Christ (me as your brother, not you as MY brother).

The surprising thing is, I found a resource which might actually accomplish both. So humor me, read this, and let me know if it gives you a different perspective on whether Christ was in fact separated from the Father and Spirit, and what that means for our own comfort and reassurance.

Here's the link: He Did Not Descend Into Hell: A Plea for Following Scripture Instead of the Apostles' Creed, by Wayne Grudem, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Volume 34, March 1991.

Oh, and the article is 11 pages, but if you want the specific part that I think might help, jump to page 10, and read all of section III, "Biblical Opposition to a Descent into Hell."

And the comforting part? That'd be that last 2 paragraphs of that section, starting with "These texts indicate, then..."

Again, let me know what you think...

Joanna said...

I read the whole article. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, James.
The issue is one I hadn't really thought about, or, I had thought about it some, but found contradicting conclusions, so stopped wondering about. It isn't one that shakes the bedrock of my faith, that I need an answer for. There are questions that do.

I guess, I had seen Jesus' sacrifice as necessarily a spiritual one, and he needing to die a spiritual as well as physical death to 'become sin for us'. The problem between us and God was a spiritual, "wages of sin is death" problem, where I understood 'death' as 'separation from God'. I didn't think it could be solved by physical suffering alone. This article implies that the atonement was made at the 'It is finished', and Jesus never had separation from God, even when he 'became sin for us'. And, if Jesus was never separated from God the Father, what did he say "My God, my God, why have you forsaken (abandoned) me?"

So... I still don't know. But this article has given me a different perspective, and something to think about. And I like thinking! :) Thanks!

James Kubecki said...

Glad you enjoyed it, and I know you like thinking! :-)

Grudem isn't arguing that Jesus never had separation from God, just that the separation was completed on the cross, and did not extend to the grave.

From the article (emphasis mine):

"In addition the cry of Jesus, 'It is finished' (John 19:30), strongly suggests that Christ's suffering was finished at that moment, and so was his alienation from the Father because of bearing our sin."

(And did you know that Blogger comments won't allow blockquotes? Bummer.)

Keep in mind, also, that this particular article wasn't written to address the atonement per se, just the "he descended into hell" part of the Apostles' Creed. If you're really interested in a longer text on the atonement, I can bring in his Systematic Theology sometime for you to take a look at; he discusses it at length there. (It's a book I highly recommend anyway.)

Matt Moberly said...

Jesus' cry of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is the opening verse to Psalm 22.

I've heard it proposed that his intent, calling out to a Jewish crowd, was to bring to their minds the entire psalm. Read this stunning account of Jesus' experience on the cross:

Psalm 22:14-19
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Verses 20-24 are a prayer for rescue:
20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

And the psalm closes with this:
31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.

Tie that in with this account of Jesus' death in John...

John 19:30
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now his cry of abandonment begins to looks more to me like a cry of victory. He has done it! God and sinners reconciled at last!


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