I have a habit of waking in the middle of the night and not going back to sleep for at least an hour. I've learned not to get up, to just lie there and let the thoughts wash over me, to meditate on them, not to look at the clock. Eventually sleeps come for me again, and over the years, I have begun to cherish that time.
This morning was no different, except that as I lay there, I realized my arm was aching. The area from the wrist to the break flares up occasionally, and probably will more often as I age, especially here in this colder climate. Today, the pain was radiating out from closest to the wrist and I was massaging it when it occurred to me this spot would most likely be where the nails would be driven in at crucifixion. When I was younger I had a enough fascination to read extensively about Roman crucifixion -- maximize the pain, slow the death, that was the goal. To really keep your prey hanging long enough that they will have hours of pain and agony, you can't drive a spike through the center of the hand: all that writhing could eventually tear their hand off. So you drive it down into the base of the hand, between the bones right above the wrist to keep them sufficiently pinned.
Squirming a little yet? No, this isn't going to be one of those horror blogs on the details of crucifixion. You want to know, go look it up.
But I'm massaging my wrist and thinking about the Crucifixion and I being to imagine what that Sabbath must have been like for the people who loved Jesus, who believed in Him, only to watch Him die the most agonizing of deaths.
As John, at sunrise I would be observing this Sabbath holed up in a dark, locked room, terrified and grief-stricken over the loss of my best friend and the man I believed was going to be my, and my people's, Savior. How could He not be? I have seen so many miraculous things with this man. They were real. They had to be.
But as the hours tick past now, the doubt creeps in, whispering to me in the dark: it was all for nothing.
The last sleep I've had was at a time when Jesus asked me to keep watch. Since then, I have witnessed his slow, torturous, agonizing death, over many hours, blood flowing, screams of pain, flesh torn away, gasping His last. How could he charge me with taking care of Mary when, odds are, the authorities will come for me next? There is no hope left.
We, and even John, when he finally wrote his account, had the benefit of seeing the bigger picture, of knowing that Sunday did come.
It's easy to forget how dark the pit can be in the light of day. On a weekend of remembrance, let's not skip over Saturday. It will make Sunday's dawn that much sweeter.