How far can we go with verses like this one: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)? Does “all things” include tumors and tests and tempers and terminations? John would answer yes. John would tell you that God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only you will wait and watch.
Could there have been a greater tragedy for John than a dead Jesus? Three years earlier John had turned his back on his career and cast his lot with this Nazarene carpenter. Earlier in the week John had enjoyed a tickertape parade as Jesus and the disciples entered Jerusalem. Oh, how quickly things had turned! The people who had called Him king on Sunday called for His death the following Friday. These linens were a tangible reminder that his friend and his future were wrapped in cloth and sealed behind a rock.
John didn’t know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn’t know that Friday’s tragedy would be Sunday’s triumph. John would later confess that he “did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).
That’s why what he did on Saturday is so important.
We don’t know anything about this day; we have no passage to read, no knowledge to share. All we know is this: When Sunday came, John was still present. When Mary Magdalene came looking for him, she found him.
Jesus was dead. The Master’s body was lifeless. John’s friend and future were buried. But John had not left. Why? Was he waiting for the resurrection? No. As far as he knew, the lips were forever silent and the hands forever still. He wasn’t expecting a Sunday surprise. Then why was he here?
You’d think he would have left. Who was to say that the men who crucified Christ wouldn’t come after him? The crowds were pleased with one crucifixion; the religious leaders might have called for more. Why didn’t John get out of town?
Perhaps the answer was pragmatic; perhaps he was taking care of Jesus’ mother. Or perhaps he didn’t have anywhere else to go. Could be he didn’t have any money or energy or direction . . . or all of the above.
Or maybe he lingered because he loved Jesus.
To others, Jesus was a miracle worker. To others, Jesus was a master teacher. To others, Jesus was the hope of Israel. But to John, He was all of these and more. To John, Jesus was a friend.
You don’t abandon a friend—not even when that friend is dead. John stayed close to Jesus.
He had a habit of doing this. He was close to Jesus in the upper room. He was close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was at the foot of the Cross at the crucifixion, and he was a quick walk from the tomb at the burial.
Did he understand Jesus? No.
Was he glad Jesus did what He did? No.
But did he leave Jesus? No.
What about you? When you’re in John’s position, what do you do? When it’s Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph, what do you do? Do you leave God—or do you linger near Him?
Which takes us back to the question. Could God do something similar in your life? Could He take what today is a token of tragedy and turn it into a symbol of triumph? Do you feel like God’s abandoned you? Don’t give up! Pray that He will give you the patience to see the situation through, and thank Him in advance for what He is going to do.
Content in this post taken from The Lucado Encouraging Word Bible. The Lucado Encouraging Word Bible is designed to encourage believers along their journey with the Lord. Max Lucado’s warm, conversational style ensures that the marginal notes, short articles, and various study tools meet you where you are, providing encouragement and insight. This Bible will strengthen you as you follow the included reading plan and incorporate this Bible into your daily devotional life. The 30-day study guide will help you jumpstart this practice. This Bible will help you as a believer, and with Pastor Lucado’s gentle yet powerful notes, it’s a beautiful gift for your non-believing friends and family who could use some encouragement with Scripture.