The Long Wait :: By Sean Gooding

John 19:17-24

“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: Jesus of Nazareth is the King of the Jews.

20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore, the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seams, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which says, “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore, the soldiers did these things.”

It is Thursday morning now; Jesus has been in the tomb since sundown last night, and it is a Sabbath day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4–8). No work is allowed on this day. These disciples are trapped in their thoughts: Peter is broken (Luke 22:64), John is making room for Mary, his new house guest (John 19:25–27), and all of Jerusalem is in unrest. The religious leaders who orchestrated Jesus’ death are on edge as they are worried that the disciples will come and steal Jesus’ body and claim that He was resurrected.

Matthew 27:62-66 “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days, I will rise.’ Therefore, command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way; make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.”

Those three days and three nights must have felt like an eternity to these followers of Jesus. By Thursday night, commerce would resume, people would go about their business, and life would move on. But for these folks, it would seem as if all was standing still. They had given it their all. Peter said it: We have left all to follow you.

Matthew 19:27 “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?'”

Did they make a mistake? Were they blinded by the miracles? Did the miracles really happen? Peter was pondering going back to being a professional fisherman, and he does so in John 21, taking a bunch of the apostles with him, including John. I cannot imagine the questions, the doubts, the worries, and the fear. Some of the women went and saw where they buried him, and they prepared to properly anoint his body after the normal Sabbath.

Luke 23:51–56 “Now, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision or deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, and he 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 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.”

In Luke 24:1, we see that these women went to anoint a dead body; they did not expect to see the tomb opened or empty, and they even wondered who would help them move the stone. They find the tomb empty, and they run back to the disciples to tell them, and they are met with skepticism.

Luke 24:8–12 “And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like fairy tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.”

Peter saw the empty tomb, and even he was not too sure what happened here. He and John saw, and they returned to their homes (John 20:10). But later that night, they would be all together, still very afraid, and the Risen Jesus would show up, speak to them, show them His scars, eat food with them, and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

John 20:19–23 19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'”

This would begin a journey that would transform these disciples into the men and women who would change the world. God would begin a movement with them that is still changing the world today. We are waiting for Jesus to return; it has been a long, long wait. Generation after generation has come and gone, and still, we wait, but as sure as Jesus arose from the tomb, so is His promise to return and get us. Hold on, don’t lose hope, don’t give up, and soon the trumpet will sound and we will be with Jesus forever.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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