It is said that the angels always praise God. It is nothing more than a natural response to His Holiness. So as Jesus, Son of God walked the earth, there would have been a constant angelic presence around Him. But as the angel appeared to Him in Gethsemane that horrible night, it must have been very strange praise indeed.
As an angel came to strengthen Him, His agony caused blood to mix with sweat and fall to the ground: the blood of salvation was already flowing. What did the Angel say? This night was different from all others before it. How did they praise Him as the very Son of God was betrayed? How could they praise Him as he was illegally arrested, beaten, and executed? They couldn’t have. Did they cry as He who knew no sin became sin? As He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” as the Passover Lamb gave up His life, did heaven itself go silent?
Of course, all that was three days ago. Jesus had been buried and Jerusalem slept lazily; its inhabitants ignorant of what was at stake. Would prophecy come true? Would Jesus, who died for sin, rise with the Father’s approval? Would life defeat death? Would grace and mercy defeat sin and judgement? The angels looked forward without knowledge, but with trust. Their Lord promised, and they knew their Lord. But to overcome death?
At the tomb it was eerily quiet; the very air calmed and tarried in hopes of witnessing something. The sparrows stopped announcing the dawn in anxious expectation, and the rooster, a herald of accusation just a few days before, quelled it’s call. The soldiers assigned to guard the tomb of a dead man also noticed the sudden stillness and fell silent, and even the angels, who long to sing the eternal praises of God, paused in anticipation. The entire universe silently held its breath. Waiting…
I wrote this piece several years ago when I was the production coordinator at a church. The congregation entered with all the lights dimmed, the shades drawn, everything was dark to put them back in the emotions of Good Friday. Then I read this script, and boom- music, lights, shades raised, all of it. Why not bring a visual and emotional element to the moments before the resurrection? Just because Jerusalem was sleeping, it doesn’t mean the rest of the universe was. If the Christian story of sin and redemption is true, then all of heaven really had to pause and see what would happen in the moments before the resurrection.
It wasn’t long after that that I left the church, but I did get the chance to make this one artistic venture.