In the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection, the disciples waited.
They are about to become living witnesses to the greatest miracle in the history of mankind. The Promise that has walked with them has accomplished the fullness of God’s plan. The Savior has, indeed, saved.
And they have no idea.
With the blessing of history and hindsight, we can see it. We, from our vantage point, always see the aftermath of the crucifixion illuminated by the glow of the resurrection. But the disciples didn’t. What we understand as the transition from death to life they saw as a tangled mess of failure, despair, fear, and confusion.
The Bible tells us that even the believers who walked most closely with Christ literally didn’t understand His plan, or that His intention was to come back from the dead. There were no knowing glances exchanged at the cross. As far as they knew, Jesus was dead. The grand and promising movement they’d been a part of now rested in what seemed to be chaos and uncertainty.
I find this comforting, mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. Waiting for things to happen. Waiting to see how God’s plan in certain areas will unfold. Waiting to see fruit. Waiting for the fulfillment of promises. Waiting. And in my waiting I keep feeling like I should have some glimpse of the promised land ahead, that there should be some indication that God is indeed doing something, that this confusing road leads somewhere. But I don’t have any of those things. I take comfort that the disciples didn’t, either.
They didn’t know the morning was coming to end the dark night of their confusion and bewildering despair. But the morning came anyway: unexpected, unsought, unasked, un-imagined.
Let’s take a look at the condition of those disciples after the death of Christ. They were:
- ignorant: The Bible tells us that the disciples really had no inkling of Jesus’ greater plan, despite having been told of it and warned about it many, many times. There was no comfort in future knowledge to be had, despite the fact that Jesus Himself tried to give it to them. As far as they’re concerned, the promised redemption remains unfinished.
- afraid: John tells us that the disciples were spending times behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. Once witnesses to miracles, they were now fugitives. A hopeful future has turned into a dire present.
- desperate: I have the sense that after Christ’s death that Jesus’ followers were just lonely, bewildered sheep searching for guidance. We see it in the way Peter runs to the tomb when he hears that the body is not there; we hear it in Mary’s cry of “Rabboni!” when Jesus says her name. They’ve been waiting desperately without fully realizing what they’re waiting for.
- searching for answers: The two men on the road to Emmaus who encounter Christ are already talking to each other when they meet Him. They have all the pieces of the puzzle in hand, but haven’t arrived at the answer; they can’t put two and two together until the Answer shows up beside them. The period following Christ’s crucifixion is full of bewilderment, confusion, and desperate attempts to pull meaning from what has happened.
Take stock of your life and yourself. Are there areas in your life where you feel this way? Where you’re waiting for something without seeing any clear way out or any open doors? Where God’s plan makes virtually no sense and the things that seemed clear in the past are obscured in the present? If so, the strongest promise I can give to you is this:
God’s plan remains. He is working. Even if you can’t find any clarity in your circumstances.
The disciples who worked wonders in Acts and the New Testament – who risked their lives for and understood completely the nature of their salvation and the sacrifice of Christ – spent a short time with their dreams, beliefs, and plans in shambles. For them, in that moment, there also seemed no clear way out, no explanation of current events, and no guarantee that the promised hope of the past would matter in the future.
But then morning came. And they understood.
Morning will come for you, too.