Silence on a Saturday, to a parent, is a little bit of a joke. But I do recall the last time I felt the world around me go silent. It was more than 6 years ago when a winter storm dumped 33 inches of snow on Baltimore and the surrounding areas. I stepped out of my house to clear snow as the storm was fizzling out. 95 was shut down, many of the roads were impassable, and almost all of the neighborhoods were snowed in. BWI was grounded. There was no school, no rush hour traffic, no businesses were open. No birds were singing, or moving, all the neighborhood animals were silent in their homes. It was a silence that I have never experienced in Baltimore, or anywhere else for that matter. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, the last snowflakes landing on various surfaces, and the crunch of my footsteps in the soft snow on my sidewalk. Absolute silence.
Silence like that was deafening, eerie, and uncomfortable, but I don’t believe it holds a candle to the silence following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Luke 23 tells us that the city “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment”. So after the shouts of “crucify him” the sickening sounds of a brutal scourging, the groans of the followers as their beloved Messiah was led away, the wails of those who were once blind – now healed by the Savior of the World – watching their healer trudge to His death, after all that, the world went silent. Deathly silent. As the earth rejoiced at His birth, it mourned His death. As the super religious reflected on their week, they sat in stunned silence as they pondered what they had done. Can you imagine the deafening silence if one of the Pharisees happened to open the scroll from the prophet Isaiah, as he mentally worked to justify the actions of the day before and read, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Absolute silence.
Silence in the homes of the followers, as they begin to question the last three years of their lives, as they question why God would allow this to happen, silent questions in their hearts and minds as doubt and fear silence their faith. Silence in Peter’s house, a Peter who has no words left to speak or tears left to cry, as the deafening sound of a rooster echoes in his head. Silence as he watches his mother in law, still living because of Christ’s healing, weep silently as she prepares a meal. Silence that unnerves Malchus as he reflexively touches his ear again to make sure it’s still there. Silence in the halls of the palace of Pontius Pilate, as he stares at hands that he has washed over and over again. Silence surrounds Nicodemus as he sits silently as the teacher of teachers, wondering what the lesson was in all of this? Absolute silence.
Silence in heaven – but not the silence of despair, the silence of anticipation. The silence of anticipation before a firework explodes, the silence of anticipation before a newborn baby cries, the silence of anticipation before the first rays of sunshine shoot over the horizon. The same silence of anticipation surrounds death and hell as Satan ponders his recent victory, or his imminent defeat. The silence of heaven as God almighty watches as His perfect plan unfolds exactly how He planned it to.
Silence in our own lives. The silence when we don’t know where God is or what He is doing. The silence when we know what we’ve done or how God will respond to it. The silence when doubt and fear shout over faith and render us powerless. The same silence that gripped the world on the heels of the death of the Savior can gip our own lives at any given moment. But we must turn the despair of that silence into anticipation. Yes, the day looks dark, but sunlight is about to burst through the East as God claims the victory in every situation we find ourselves in. The same God who had a purpose and plan behind the death of his only begotten Son, has a plan for each of His children no matter how loud the silence is that surrounds us. Don’t lose hope, don’t give into fear, don’t believe the lies that whisper in the silence. Sunday is coming. Get ready for a holy roar!
Today’s Bible Reading:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Luke 23:56