This is the fifth in a series of devotions based around the events of Holy Week. Read the intro to the series here.
- Scripture -
Holy Saturday is the last day in Lent. Traditionally it commemorates the day Jesus was in the grave.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
- Reflection -
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in mourning after a loved one has died. Its an odd time. Life feels disconcertingly normal and yet like it could never be the same again all at once. You move between tears and laughter as fond memories collide with the realisation that more won’t be made. You retrace again and again the final moments you had with that person. You want company and you want to be alone. You want to scream and you want to pretend like nothing has happened. And all the while there is a numbing question lingering at the back of your mind that you don’t want to answer: what next? Answering what next means moving on, and you don’t want to.
I often wonder what it was like for the disciples on Holy Saturday. This is the day before the long trudging walk home to Emmaus. The day before they resign themselves to the idea that Jesus wasn’t who they thought he was. We see in the passage above that Mary and Mary weren’t prepared to give up on him just yet. Rather they sit watching, waiting, hoping…
But the grave didn’t move. Jesus did nothing. God was suddenly... silent.
How many times have you felt this way about your relationship with God. He’s just silent. Maybe you’ve sat there, watching, waiting, becoming increasingly desperate. Maybe you’ve reached the point of questioning if what you had hoped for were really true. Maybe you’ve felt completely alone, or have completely isolated yourself. Have you ever felt like the silence has gone on too long or been ready to start asking “what next”. Have you reminisced about happier times when your faith seemed more… alive?
What I love about Holy Saturday is we get to look at it with hindsight. We get to look back and think… no wait, God was doing something, He was at work. We just couldn’t see it. Holy Saturday may have been the longest, most agonising day ever, but it ended, and the new day that followed more than made up for it.
Today is the last day of lent. Tomorrow we leave the desert, we step into the new day. The day of life and celebration. The day when hope is realised. But for now, let’s take one last moment to press into the reality that at times it feels more like Saturday than Sunday. And those times are hard and difficult. But through them we discover more about ourselves. And when Sunday finally comes we discover more about the faithfulness of God too.
- Prayer -
Jesus, to be truly honest there are times when it feels like you’re silent. Like you’re not doing anything. Even times when my faith feels dead. Help me in those times to remember your goodness, to express the grief that demonstrates how much you mean to me. Help me be like Mary and Mary, still watching, still waiting, still hoping. Thank you that you are a God of resurrection, and that you are at work even when you seem so silent. Please give me the hope of resurrection and opportunities to share that hope with others too. Help me believe that Sunday is coming.
Photo Credit: Simeon Muller