It is on Saturday of Passion Week that fear really took hold. Jesus’ followers– scattered the day before– have gone into hiding. They were terrified of betrayal by their neighbors or other who might recognize their connection with Jesus. That Saturday of Passion Week, every footstep in the street, every knock at the house next door, every raised voice, caused the terror to rise to the surface again. The extreme disillusionment and sorrow of Friday is taking its toll on Saturday. Life is not simply flat and gloomy: now it is horrifying.
Had God abandoned them? Were they heretics as their enemies claimed? Was Jesus a liar or a misguided fool? In their minds, the fishing, or the collecting of taxes, the farming and small businesses of their former lives now appeared to be a respectable alternative to all the talk about the coming Kingdom of God. What about the miracles, the crowds and the new hope inspired by Jesus’ teaching over the past several years? These now appeared foolish and even dangerous. So the followers of Jesus quietly made their plans to slip back north up to Galilee and just disappear. Fear had caused a sudden abandonment of everything these men and women had so optimistically believed as recently as one week before.
Many of us have experienced (or are experiencing) this kind of fear. That deep kind of fear is dark and overpowering. It makes us desperate and irrational. It can cause us to be suspicious of those around us. We feel like cornered animals with no way of escape. So we crouch, ready to fight and flee, abandoning all we once held dear. Threatened layoffs at work, accusations by associates, a medical diagnosis or some huge disillusionment can have this effect on us. Are you in the grip of fear? Are you considering throwing away some of your dearest commitments? Do you feel abandoned by God? Hold on: God isn’t finished. Hope is just around the corner!