The Saturday between Good Friday & Easter Sunday gets lost. We’re not sure what to do with it. In the biblical story, nothing happens. Jesus is dead. He’s in the tomb. The disciples are in hiding. Nothing is happening.
They authorities tried to keep Jesus safely dead then, and they try it still today.
Again and again, when the news media want to talk about God, they ignore Jesus. We hear so-called experts proclaiming that science has disproved God — without realizing that the ‘god’ you could squeeze out of the picture by more and more scientific discoveries is not the God whom we worship. Our world is still full of the modern equivalents of high priests going to the governor to have a guard placed on the tomb — the sceptics appealing for help to the powerful. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
N.T. Wright says:
“Sometimes, though, we Christians need to observe a Holy Saturday moment. On Holy Saturday, there is nothing you can do except wait. The Christian faith suffers, apparently, great defeats. There are scandals and divisions, and the world looks on and loves it, like the crowds at the foot of the cross.”
But God will do what God will do, in God’s own time. The world can plot and plan, but all of that will count for nothing when the victory already won on the cross turns into the new sort of victory on the third day.
In many places in the western world today, the church is almost apologetic, afraid of being sneered at. It looks as though the chief priests and the Pharisees of our culture, the political leaders, have won.
Give them their day to imagine that. It’s happened before and it will happen again. The Romans tried to stamp out the Christian faith multiple times. Turmoil in the 16th & 17th centuries gave rise to scepticism about the Christian faith. ISIS and other persecutors run rampant in our day. We don’t know what will happen next. We don’t know what the sceptics, the so-called “new Atheists of our day”, the persecutors of this generation will do next.
Part of what are called to, is to keep watching and waiting on Holy Saturday, in faith and hope, grieving over the ruin of the world that sent Jesus to his death, trusting in the promises of God that new life will come in his way and his time.
On that first Good Friday – Easter Resurrection weekend there were somethings done that took courage, in the midst of the hard and sad events. It took courage for Joseph of Arimathea to go to Pontius Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. Peter and the others run away to hide because they were afraid of being thought accomplices of Jesus. Joseph steppped up. He provided a new tomb and a clean linen cloth. It all had to be done quickly, the sabbath was approaching.
Sometimes, as we work for and with Jesus, it may feel a bit like that. We aren’t sure why we are in this place. Why things aren’t going as we wanted or planned. Why energy seems to have been drained out of it all. That’s a Holy Saturday moment. Do what has to be done, and wait for God to act in his own way and his own time.