When Peter awoke on Thursday morning, he did not yet know.
That night, he would eat torn bread and drink shared wine. He would listen as Jesus predicted denial and betrayal, and he would stubbornly shake his head. “Even if all fall away, I will not.” He would use words like “never” and would make loud promises of certainty. All his sentences would end in exclamation points.
That night, he would see the weapons of Roman soldiers and temple police, and he would draw his own sword in defense of the One he promised he would defend.
A few hours later, he would deny knowing that very One.
Then he would deny it again.
And then again.
When he woke up on Thursday, Peter didn’t know any of this; by Friday morning, he knew it all. And the sound of his knowing was the sound of a grown man weeping.
When Joseph and Nicodemus awoke on Friday morning, they did not yet know.
Later that morning, they would watch their coworkers consent to desperate levels of realpolitik. They would see Pilate wash his hands. The backs of their necks would feel darkness at midday. They would understand the truth of those three words, “It is finished.”
That afternoon, they would ask that same Pilate for the body of Jesus Christ. They would use coarse tools to pry Him from a crudely made cross. They would bear the weight of a grown man in order to wrap Him in clean linen, and they would carry that man to a tomb to leave Him in darkness.
When they woke up Friday morning, Joseph and Nicodemus did not yet know any of this. But when the sun set that night, they had seen things and done things they would never be able to forget.
How can so much change in the space of just one day? How is it possible that all mornings are alike, that there is no herald to warn that life will hinge on the next few hours? Why is there no hint?
By Saturday, all of them would know all of these things. Like Adam and Eve, they would understand that sometimes, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is to eat bitter fruit. The fruit of that Tree is fruit that cannot be un-eaten.
Knowing what cannot be un-known. Images that will never be erased, sounds that will never be forgotten, decisions that can never be revised. “This is Who I Hoped I Was” forever destroyed by the reality of “This is Who I Am.” Tearing the garden apart, clawing at branches in search of a few fig leaves, hoping for something that might ricochet the scalding light of Knowing Too Much. Yearning for the ignorance of sleep but now wide, wide awake.
How very long Saturday must have seemed. After the thunder and earthquakes and darkness of Friday, how tormenting the silence – that terrible, roaring silence – of Saturday.
How merciful, then, the surprise of Sunday. How beautiful the dawn of grace.