Our heart grows quiet as the Scriptures inform us with the facts of that Passover Friday so long ago. The unimaginable reality of Jesus Christ of Nazareth enduring torture, suffering, and the weight of humanity’s sin cause our hearts to beat more slowly. The facts of Calvary grip our conscience like a mother imparting urgent wisdom to her child, “Hush, now! Your very life depends on this silence.”
Silence is sobering. It brings you in touch with your own fragileness—the thumping of your heartbeat, the hard swallow of your stoic composure, the brushing of your own hesitant breath. In the silence, you don’t get distracted from who you really are.
In the silence you deeply know how closely connected you are to the facts of Calvary. Your torture He withstood. Your suffering He endured. Your sin He bore. Left with only this knowledge, the silence might well be suffocating. If the story ended on Good Friday the silence would be only death, sucking out life’s last gasp of breath. Oh, what a bad Friday it would be!
There is more to Good Friday’s silence.
Good Friday’s silence comes with a stillness; a waiting for the rest of the story. In Scripture we find that many a Passover is encored by a Pass Through. It is in the encore that the information of Good Friday transforms us. It’s the Pass Throughs that invite us into the waters of new life.
There’s another story tucked away, far removed from the time and place of Calvary. It tells of God’s people exiting Egypt and its oppression. Passover joy quickly silenced by their entrapment, with the oppressor’s destruction closing in on them. Nothing dashes hope like a short-lived victory.
“As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, ‘Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? [Hear them assume death?] Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness’” Exodus 14:10-12.
You know, if you’re being honest, you have had moments like this. The moments where you forget the Lord’s provision. Forget His powerful deeds. Forget to marvel at His ways. All you remember is how it used to be; only what it was like before the Passover. I have to think this is how the disciples felt on the first Good Friday. The Bad Guys have won.
But Passovers always point to something that is not completed yet.
“But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians [your oppressors] whom have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward’” Exodus 14:13-15.
Now it is finished. We can all go forward. “It is finished.” Our oppression from sin is done.
We all need the work of Passover—most notably Good Friday’s Passover—but, it is the wonder of the Pass Through into the new and resurrected life that makes today’s silence bearable. We pause to give thanks on Passover for what should have been ours, but by grace has passed us by. So too we give thanks that we will not stay in this place. We will go forward; we will Pass Through. Do you not hear the Spirit saying, “Hush, now! Your new life depends on this silence”?
The message of Good Friday transforms the silence into anticipatory stillness. One of the most dramatic moments of a symphony is when the conductor’s baton rises in the still silence of the darkened auditorium and in one fail swoop it awakens the violin, flute, and bass. In the silent stillness the song comes alive.
The silence of Good Friday is not a slow creep to a meaningless death. No! It is the still watching for new life to be awakened. Reflect today. Be still. Anticipate!
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.