The Upper Room
John 19:38-42 The Passion Translation
After this, Joseph from the city of Ramah [Arimathea], who was a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jewish authorities, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. So Pilate granted him permission to remove the body from the cross. 39 Now Nicodemus, who had once come to Jesus privately at night, accompanied Joseph, and together they carried a significant amount of myrrh and aloes to the cross. 40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in strips of linen with the embalming spices[c] according to the Jewish burial customs. 41 Near the place where Jesus was crucified was a garden, and in the garden there was a new tomb where no one had yet been laid to rest. 42 And because the Sabbath was approaching, and the tomb was nearby, that’s where they laid the body of Jesus.
Jesus was dead. We were stunned, distraught with grief and terrified. They came for Jesus and now Jesus was dead. Would they come for us too? We gathered in the upper room of a house to hide together, to grieve together. We were the followers of Jesus, His disciples. He was our teacher, our friend, our Lord. I don’t how we kept breathing, so great was the pain in our hearts. He had been ripped away from us and we would never be whole again without Him.
Waves of grief crashed over us and we cried until there were no more tears, and then we were silent. Each of us would open our mouths at times to say something, but no words came, only a sigh and more tears.
The silence was deafening. It roared and screamed at us and inside of us. Jesus was gone and we were alone.
For three years we had followed Jesus, and placed all hopes in Him. He was to be the Messiah, to deliver Israel from the oppression of Rome. He was to usher in a new kingdom for our people. Jesus was to be our King, and we were His faithful followers, like David’s mighty men. But Jesus was dead, and who were we now without Him?
Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He and Nicodemus wrapped His body and the burial spices with strips of linen and laid Jesus in a new tomb, owned by Joseph. I had not the heart to help prepare Jesus’ body for the grave. I had not the heart to do anything. I curled up in a dark corner and laid down. When I closed my eyes I saw Jesus, beaten and hanging on the cross. I could not sleep, but neither could I wake.
I had so many questions. “Why did you leave us Jesus? How could you die when You raised Lazarus from the dead? What about all that You taught us? How could any of it make any sense now? Where are You Jesus?”
The upper room was empty without Jesus. The whole world was now empty without Jesus. I was empty without Jesus.
But then . . .
Dear Jesus, I confess that there are times when I don’t see You working in my life and I don’t feel Your presence or Your love for me. I can’t hear Your voice. My prayers seem to evaporate into the air. I long for You, but feel empty. I call for You, but hear only silence. But then . . . I hold on to those words for I know that just as the story didn’t end in the Upper Room, my story hasn’t ended either. Give me strength and courage to believe and to trust You, even when there is silence and grief and loss, even when nothing makes sense. Fill the empty parts of me, for I am empty without You Jesus.