(Originally written about 4 years ago. Today, I feel the redemption ache of Easter Saturday just as strongly as I ever have.)
For Christians, holy week is all about remembering and celebrating. There’s Maundy Thursday when we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, Good Friday when we remember his trip to Golgotha and the dark day of his death. And then, of course, there’s Easter Sunday when we celebrate the miracle of resurrection. All of this remembering and celebrating is good, but I wonder why we never give a second thought to Saturday. Plain old, ordinary Saturday… that pause, that middle place between what may well be the most terrible day in history and the most triumphant.
The Bible is almost silent on the events of Saturday. Three of the gospels never mention it at all, and Matthew tells us only that Saturday was the day when Jesus’ grave was reinforced and guarded to avoid a resurrection scam by his desperate followers. I wonder where the disciples were on Saturday… what they were doing and what they were thinking. I imagine that there was a lot of grief, a lot of effort made to go through the motions of normal life. I imagine feelings of disappointment and betrayal (“we thought this guy was the Messiah… where is the kingdom that he promised?”). Maybe there was a twinge of hope flitting about the edge of their consciousness, but I hardly believe this was the prevailing emotion of the day.
With the benefit of hindsight, maybe we see Saturday a bit differently. We know what’s coming, so the expectation is palpable. The grief is real, the terror is real… but it is not the end. We believe, we know, that death will be swallowed up in victory. But still, Saturday is a waiting time.
If I’m honest, I have to admit that much of my life is spent living like it’s Saturday. I believe that redemption is possible… that individuals and families and communities and social structures can change. I believe that mercy can triumph over judgment. I believe that grace and healing and deliverance are real and that they are powerful. I pray for these things. I work for them in the ways that I think are best. But I still find myself in the middle place where reality and expectation collide, where life experience and future hope aren’t always woven together as seamlessly as I would like them to be.
And I think that this is ok. Is it important to linger at the cross and experience the depth of darkness that Good Friday brings? I think so. Is it important to linger at the empty tomb and revel in the miracle of Easter Sunday? Absolutely. But I think that the pause in between is important too. If we want to take our faith seriously, I think we must learn how to live well on Saturday.