I just got home from our Good Friday service at church. It was humbling... Humbling to think of what Jesus went through for me, for us. To spend any block of time with only that focus is an experience that really draws us closer to God.
The sanctuary was dimly lit with candles across a table in front. Right behind the table was a rustic cross holding a crown of thorns and draped in a black cloth. The music pastor and his wife who led the singing with him, were off to the side and dressed in black. The mood was solemn as we heard scripture and sang songs about the cross and the crucifixion.
This was not an Easter celebration. There was no mention of the joy of the resurrection. The purpose was to focus on the sacrifice that Jesus offered for us. As each speaker read their scripture and said a prayer, they blew out a candle until there remained only one. The last scripture was read by the principal of our Nazarene school. As he exited the platform and walked to the remaining lit candle, we all expected him to lean and blow it out. But instead, he picked up the candle and carried it down the aisle and out of the sanctuary. I felt the symbolism was that our Light had left us, although temporary.
Most of the time I contemplate the crucifixion, I think about the physical pain that Jesus endured. But what about His followers' pain? Can you imagine how they felt? Here was a man whom they believed was God in the flesh, Who spoke of eternal life, and yet He was now dead!
Jesus gives us strength and holds us up. What if we suddenly felt that He was gone? What if the whole foundation of our faith was pulled out from under our feet? I can't imagine the anguish I would feel if Jesus was taken from me. Yet, that is what His early followers went through on that terrible day. I can understand... To watch someone hanging, nailed to a cross, seeing Him breathe His last breath, would we, at that moment, understand His promise to rise on the third day? Could we fathom the reality of that?