Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.(Matthew 27:62-66)
Sandwiched between crucifixion and resurrection, what are we to do with this unique day, Holy Saturday?
The actual day after Jesus’ crucifixion and death, the religious leaders were concerned that somehow his frightened disciples were plotting to secretly steal Jesus’ body, hide it, and then try to convince the public that he had risen from the dead.
Jesus’ disciples had no such intention. But, I think it’s us, his followers today, who are prone to rushing to get Jesus out of the grave.
We have idolized pleasure, amusement, comfort, and success, and so we’ve become unaccustomed to waiting, stillness, silence, suffering, and death. In this way, we rush from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We miss the good of Holy Saturday.
But Jesus did rise from the dead already, didn’t he? So why bother with prolonging the difficult part?
Because real life involves difficulties that don’t just go away. Temptations persist, loneliness recurs, the job doesn’t come through, our kids don’t come home. Around the world, we’re in a season of prolonged crisis, and we can’t just make it go away. The walls we’ve stared at to pretend we’re in charge are shaking. We are not the ones in control of health, time, security, life or death.
Holy Saturday invites us to face the darkness we do not want, and there to reflect, to pray, to sit vigil. Though darkness comes, today we remember his promises and the deeds he’s done that speak to his trustworthiness.
Faith deepens its roots in times like these, if we’ll accept them.
Like his first disciples, we need not move the stone and steal the Lord’s body from the tomb.
Question: Can you think of a time when you walked through an unwanted darkness, that in the end made the light all the sweeter?