Today is Holy Saturday. Yesterday commemorated the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross. Within the timeline of Holy Week, today marks the only complete day that Jesus spent buried in a tomb. An unsettling thought, really– but how much more so for the first disciples of Christ! This particular holy day must have been downright traumatizing for the believers who experienced it first, without the benefit of hindsight.
The First Holy Saturday
What it must have been like! To have left one’s day job, following and serving a traveling preacher. A gamble at first, but the Lord himself seemed to provide over time. To have seen miracles– healings, weather changes, even walking on water. Jesus’ following continues to grow, and others among his inner circle begin to speak of revolution against the Roman Empire that dominated their people.
The following reaches Jerusalem- the Holy City, the capitol, and during the annual celebration of deliverance from Egypt, their previous oppressors! Their reception into the city is warm. Jesus himself clears the national temple of those seeking to make an easy dollar and proceeds in preaching there to great effect. The Pharisees themselves could be heard speaking to each other: “You see that you are gaining nothing (by arguing against him). Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19) The world was ready for change!
And then– to have the movement crumble from treachery within. Jesus gets betrayed by one in his own inner circle. Charges based on Jesus’s own words are brought against him in court, and he is found guilty. What it must have been like to learn how fickle popular opinion really is. Days after welcoming him and listening to his sermons, the crowds begin to mock Jesus and call for his execution. The disciples begin to fear for their own safety; Peter’s denial of his association with Jesus begins to look like a prudent move.
And then to see him finally die. Quickly, too. For the one who raised Lazarus from the dead, six hours was a rather brief amount of time to wilt up there on the cross. Most lasted longer. Forget the calls to save himself, if he was really that powerful!
Now, it’s Saturday. Jesus is in a tomb. Imagine hiding off of the street, hoping to avoid recognition and any possible sedition charges as a follower of this “rebel,” and letting the questions begin to surface. What’s the plan now? Is there a plan? He didn’t really leave us with much, did he? Was this really the Anointed One who would bring freedom to his people? Do we, his followers, look free right now? Have I been a fool to believe in this hope?
The Benefit of Hindsight
We know because of the Resurrection that Jesus did fulfill his true mission: saving his people (ALL sinners) from their greatest oppressors (the dominions of sin and death). He then appeared to his disciples and reassured them of his promises. These same disciples went on to found his Church, and many performed their own miracles in his name.
Just like the disciples on Holy Saturday, we live in a space between God’s giving of his promises and their fulfillment, and that can leave us confused. As the disciples waited for the resurrection, so we too wait for Jesus’ return, God’s final judgment, and the remaking of heaven and earth. We wait for conclusive proof that what we believe in will come to pass, and we can find ourselves in situations that challenge those beliefs to their core. Those moments can create questions, and they can create doubt.
Living In Between
Remembering the experience of the disciples on the first Holy Saturday can remind us of a few important truths about living In Between:
- God does not always fulfill his promises in the way we expect, but he does fulfill them. As He fulfills them, we don’t always know what’s going on.
- Even Jesus’ closest disciples experienced doubt. If “elite” believers like these ones aren’t immune to it, then I don’t feel so bad.
- God is able to use people who have doubted him. The same believers who ran and hid on Saturday were the ones who broke bread with him on Sunday. And God used them to change the world.
One great way to deal with life in between is to bring the doubts and questions we have to light and talk about them. Be sure to interact with us in the upcoming Sermon Series, “Question Everything.” Each week’s message will focus on the very questions you may be asking yourself right now. Then the following Sunday you’ll have a chance to join the conversation. Get all the details on our website. In the meantime, He is with you, even in the in-between.