1 Samuel 25:1a – Now We Know! The Darkness of Saturday Is Followed By A Pretty Amazing Sunday!

Posted: March 31, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 25:1a
The Death of Samuel

Can you imagine what the disciples of Jesus must have felt like today, the Saturday before Easter Sunday? They did not have the advantage of almost 2,000 years of hindsight and history that we have. We know now that Jesus bodily arose from the dead, on Easter Sunday. We know that now and if we try to impose our historical perspective on the situation, then, we miss something, I believe.

Even though Jesus had told the disciples that He would arise from the dead and even though they had seen Him perform multiple miracles (that defy scientific explanation) on multiple occasions over their 3-year ministry with Him, how many of them actually believed that He was going to rise from the dead. As a matter of fact, they saw his beaten and bloodied, almost beyond recognition, body (and most movies with the exception of The Passion of the Christ sanitize his crucifixion) nailed by the hands and through his feet (an excruciatingly painful thing to think of by itself when you think of how many nerves are in your hands and feet). Then raised up to hang on the crucifixion apparatus until he died. They saw all this on Friday.

The most lethal effect of crucifixion was that it was designed to interfere with a condemned prisoner’s ability to breathe. That process likely began before the crucifixion, when guards brutally beat the condemned with a flagrum, a short whip with sharp objects interwoven into its thongs. As medical examiner Frederick T. Zugibe noted in his book “The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry,” the repeated blows would cause broken ribs, lacerated and collapsed lungs, and damaged the muscles in the torso, which would make it difficult and painful to breathe. He then would be dragged to his feet and forced to carry part of the cross to his place of the place of execution, which weakened his body even more. According to the New Testament, Jesus and other unfortunates were attached with nails. It is thought that the feet were nailed vertically to the upright beam with the knees bent at around 45 degrees.

Otherwise, as the cross beam was put into place, the prisoner’s thigh muscles would eventually fail, so that he couldn’t support himself with his legs. That, in turn, transferred his body weight to his arms, pulling his shoulders from their sockets. He was left in a position in which his chest and rib cage were thrust forward. As the prisoner struggled to get air, the lack of oxygen in the blood would damage his body’s tissues and blood vessels. That, in turn, would allow fluid to diffuse out of the blood into the tissues, including the lungs and heart sac. The lungs would stiffen, and the pressure around the heart would make it more difficult to pump. The decreased oxygen also would damage the heart muscle, which could cause cardiac arrest. Either way, an agonizing death eventually would result. Sometimes, the executioners would speed the process by breaking the condemned’s legs, which would hasten suffocation. Whatever the combination of factors that come into play in causing one’s death on the cross, we sanitize it for motion pictures (with the exception of the one film we noted). It was a horrible and grotesque form on punishment that was as horrible to watch as it was to suffer through.

The disciples knew all about this. Why did He not save Himself? Was He just a man as the Jewish religious elite claimed? Could you imagine how desperately lonely they felt on this long day in between Jesus’ death and His resurrection? Their leader, the miracle worker, was dead and gone. They feared for their own safety as they were known to be cohorts of this Jesus guy! They had no leadership on this Saturday. They were afraid and in hiding. Could you imagine how they felt? Could you? They did not have the advantage of see forward into Easter Sunday Morning? They only knew what they saw. They saw or heard that Jesus died the ugliest of deaths. They saw or heard about His lifeless body being placed into the tomb and the stone rolled over the opening. To them, the great three year ride was done. All the things that Jesus had said and done were now all finished. To them, they had to eventually go back to their normal lives as fishermen, tax collectors, rebels with a cause, and so on. Back to life. Back to reality. The wonders of the past three years were finished and complete. It was like being part of the road crew of an exceedingly popular rock band and then the moment of fame passes and everybody goes back to their old life. Changed. But back to the old life.

Imagine how their felt. Rudderless. No direction. No leadership. They were scared. They were confused. They did not know Easter was coming the very next day. All they know is that it seemed that Jesus was defeated and the Jewish elite and Romans had won. The revolutionary idea that life was about a relationship with God and not going through the motions of religious ceremony was gone. It was back to the same ol-same ol’. How would you have felt had you been them on this Saturday? Without knowing what was about to happen? Would you have felt scared? Would you have felt lost and defeated to the point of desperate depression? How would you feel about yourself knowing that you and everyone of your brethren disciples deserted Jesus to save you own and their own skin. How would that be making you feel right now on this Saturday nearly 2,000 years ago?

That idea of the loss of spiritual leadership is what came to mind this morning as I read this simple one verse passage in 1 Samuel (1 Samuel 25:1a). Samuel died. It’s a very simple verse. However, the fact that Samuel died is important. He was the glue that held Israel together. He was the spiritual leader of Israel for a long time – even in the midst of Saul becoming more and more maniacal. Samuel was the calming influence on the nation. With him gone, what was Israel to do for spiritual leadership? Samuel was the best spiritual leader, High Priest, that the nation had seen since Joshua and Moses before him. I bet the nation of common Israelites felt lost with Samuel now gone. That got me to thinking about how the disciples must have felt on the Saturday in between the crucifixion and the resurrection. They must have felt spiritually lost and all alone in the absence of Jesus’ leadership. Let’s read this one verse passage:

Chapter 25
1aNow Samuel died, and all Israel gathered for his funeral. They buried him at his house in Ramah.

On this short passage/verse, we see that Saul was king, but Samuel had been the nation’s spiritual leader for an extended period of time. As a young boy and as an older man, Samuel was always careful to listen to the Lord. With Samuel gone, Israel would be without spiritual leadership until David became king.

That is the thing that strikes me here. Samuel may have died and the nation probably had to suffer for about two years before Saul died and David became king. However, the momentary darkness did not last forever. Help was on the way. David became king and spiritual leader of the nation. Israel became a blessed and highly favored nation during his reign. He unified the country. He expanded its influence in the world. Darkness was followed by the bright future.

The same thing happens for the disciples of Jesus. The Saturday was followed by Easter Sunday. Can you imagine the utter and complete joy they felt when they saw the Risen Lord. He was not some ghost but and actual bodily incarnation of a man. Could you imagine after the dark, dark horrid feelings of Saturday followed the inexplicable, indescribable, amazing joy of Easter Sunday. He was what He said He was. He proved it with the resurrection. Could you imagine how insanely pumped the disciples must have been after the depressive depths of Saturday? He is risen and they are about to embark on changing the world, literally! The world was changed by these guys who survived the darkness of Saturday and saw the wonder of Sunday. They went on to spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire and into as far as India during their lifetimes. Subsequent followers whom they taught and generations after them have spread the gospel the world over. Why? Because the disciples saw the Risen Lord! They knew the utter depths of depression and failure that they felt during the dark Saturday only to be followed by the validation and joy of seeing Jesus Christ – proving that He was the Son of God.

That’s the story of us. We make a mess of our lives and find ourselves spiritually lost and feel the depths of our own failures and mistakes and we are just at our lowest point. Just as David was brought to Israel to deliver it out of its depths after the death of Samuel, God provides us a way out too. His name is Jesus Christ. His death on the cross pays the debt we owe God for our sins, a debt that we could never repay. But Jesus paid it all for us. In Him, we have resurrection just as He arose from the dead. There should be this amazing joy that you and I have as a result. We were sinners but Jesus paid it all for us. He saved us from eternity in hell. We have seen the Risen Lord! We are to be the joyous ones who are changing the world. We were dead but now we are alive in Jesus Christ. We are risen just as He is risen!

The desperate feeling of loss and failure on Saturday is followed by Resurrection Sunday. It changes everything. For the disciples 2,000 years ago. For you and me, 2,000 years later.

Amen and Amen.

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