For the first time in the history of the world, it looked like man was all alone here. It looked like his God had finally forsaken him. It looked like the God who walked with Adam in the cool of the day had simply walked on, leaving mankind in the dust behind Him.
It was the first time anything like this had ever happened. God was so famous for being with His people that nations far and wide had heard of His presence. They knew that He fought for His people. Tales of what He'd done for them spread like wildfire to peoples near and far. Little altars dotted the landscape, even in territories where Israel no longer lived, as they had marked their journey with Him and His presence on their way to Canaan.
Even Jesus, who had come in the flesh and was showing Himself so promisingly to be the Messiah, had established a ritual of relationship with His people. Not just with His disciples, although it's fairly easy to see with them, but with the people of the region - the sick, the sinners, the prostitutes, the Samaritans, the Pharisees, the tax collectors, all of them. Jesus was with them.
Until all of a sudden, He wasn't.
Until all of a sudden, He was crucified on a hill outside of the city. Until all of a sudden, a leading priest came quietly to ask for His body. Until all of a sudden, He was wrapped once more in swaddling clothes, this time placed inside not a manger, but a borrowed tomb. Until all of a sudden, a stone was rolled between the Lord and His people.
And for the first time in the history of the world, it looked like man was all alone here.
Can you relate? This Good Friday, more than any Good Friday we've known, we are poised to feel the ache of this aloneness. We are positioned to where that loneliness eats at our bones the way that it must have in that Upper Room and all through the streets of Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago. In our homes, isolated, away from one another, staring at the same four walls day in and day out, forgetting what life used to look like, longing for a little sense of normalcy, hearing our own voice echo in an empty space that was once filled with noise...yeah, we feel it.
But we are never as alone as we feel. Not even, believe it or not, on Good Friday.
Because at the very moment that Jesus died, as He took His last breath and gave up His spirit, just when it seemed that the Lord Himself had left us, the hand of God trembled as He continued to hold the earth, new life sprung up in dead places as dry bones became flesh and blood, and the curtain in the Temple tore in two - top to bottom - as God Himself rent it for our sake, so that we could come - sin-stained and all - into the place where He still dwells among His people, to the place where He still lives among us.
At the very moment that it seemed that for the first time in the history of the world, man was all alone here, God threw the doors of His most holy place wide open to remind us that we are not. We never have been, and we never will be. Not even on Good Friday.
Not even today.
It's easy to feel the ache this year. It's easy to feel the discouragement and the uncertainty and the disappointment and the disillusion of that Upper Room, that place where those who had walked so closely with Christ shut themselves in and stared at those same four walls day in and day out, hearing their own voices echo in an empty space that was once filled with the fullness of Jesus. And yet, they were not, for not a single breath, ever as alone as they felt.
And neither are we.
Praise the Lord for Good Friday.