As Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday today, we celebrate the transaction on the cross where Jesus atoned for the sins of lost people. While we have the immense benefit of recognizing what this day meant, if we were to transport ourselves back in time, there was nothing to celebrate on that day at all.
In his book Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright says it well;
And it shows, of course, that the crucifixion of Jesus was the end of all their hopes. Nobody dreamed of saying, ‘Oh that’s all right – he’ll be back again in a few days. Nor did anybody say, ‘Well, at least he’s now in heaven with God.” They were not looking for that sort of kingdom. After all, Jesus himself had taught them to pray that God’s kingdom would come ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ What they said – and again this was the ring of first century truth – was ‘We had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21), with the implication, ‘but they crucified him, so he can’t have been.’ The cross, we note, already had a symbolic meaning throughout the Roman world, long before it had a new one for the Christians. It meant: we Romans run this place, and if you get in our way, we’ll obliterate you – and do it pretty nastily too. Crucifixion meant that the kingdom hadn’t come, not that it had. Crucifixion of a would-be Messiah meant that he wasn’t the Messiah, not that he was. When Jesus was crucified, every single disciple knew what it meant: we backed the wrong horse. The game is over. Whatever their expectations, and however Jesus had been trying to redefine those expectations, as far as they were concerned hope had crumbled into ashes, They knew they were lucky to escape with their lives. (39-40)
Imagine the grief and hopelessness of the situation. Is it any wonder that they were huddled inside, when the news came? To be continued…