A DAY WITHOUT HOPE
". . . at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."
It's Saturday. Saturdays are usually relaxing days, good days for fishing or golfing or doing projects around the house. Maybe you go out to dinner or to a movie on a Saturday evening. Even for a pastor during Holy Week, it is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. About the only thing likely to intrude on a good nap is an egg hunt. But that is most Saturdays. I want us to think about a certain Saturday, the actual Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. That was the most horrible day in the history of the world. It was the day without hope.
After the fall God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden and proclaimed His judgment upon mankind; but He also began to teach them the message of hope. He began to speak of one who was to come who would defeat the serpent. He would be born of a woman and He would overcome the deceiver. Through Him those who had been lost because of sin could be saved. Through Him the relationship between God and His people would be restored. As the years and decades and centuries wore on the message was repeated. Through Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Through Moses and Joshua and David. Through Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel. All through the Old Testament, the message was proclaimed over and over . . . "God will provide a Lamb." And as the message became clearer and the time drew nearer hope grew in the hearts of God's people. "God will provide a Lamb."
And one mid-winter night the Lamb of God was born. "Call Him Jesus," the angel said, "because He will save His people from their sins." The shepherds were told, "The Savior is born." God's message of hope took on power and urgency. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!" "Behold," John said, "the Lamb of God who takes away the world's sin." And Jesus began to gather disciples and followers and teach them about God's kingdom and about His love and grace. He fed their hope, and it grew until it must have had an energy that you could feel in the air whenever He was near. People rushed to hear Him and touch Him and they were amazed and they were healed. Many put all their trust in Him . . . This man, this Jesus was the lamb that God had promised!
But it was a sacrificial lamb that God had provided. There was a cross - an instrument of torment and death - that awaited Him; one that had been crafted for the very purpose of lifting Him up between earth and heaven for all to see. Friday was a terrible day. It was a day of agony and blood and tearing of flesh. It was a day of taunts and tears and mocking. All of our iniquities and uncleanness and thoughtlessness and transgressions were placed on Him and the wrath of God the Father was poured out . . . far worse than any whip or club or spear was that moment when the Father could look no more upon His broken Son and turned away. Like all sacrificial lambs this one died. And hope died along with Him.
Yes, Friday was a terrible day; but Saturday was worse. At least while the Lamb lived there was some hope. Perhaps God would save Him and through His salvation His followers could be saved as well. Perhaps God would send and army of angels to destroy His tormenters and set the hero free. Perhaps He would summon His own power and call down fire from above . . . but none of that happened. Jesus, mankind's last and only hope, was dead. His body had grown cold. His blood had poured out of Him like water from a bucket. His fiery eyes were glazed over. His body had been wrapped and sealed behind a stone. His followers were defeated. Despair had won the day. God is a myth. The message is a lie. Hope is gone.
TO BE CONTINUED
--- Pastor Keith Andrews