Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, when we remembered that the people of Jerusalem recognized Jesus as their King. This Friday is Good Friday, when we’ll remember Jesus’ agonizing sacrificial death at the insistence of those same people. This Sunday is Easter, when we’ll celebrate that Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb, but rose again, sealing His victory over death and sin.
But what about Saturday? I have always wondered what that day over 2,000 years ago was like, sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter. The Bible says remarkably little about it, but we at least know it was the Sabbath and the disciples were likely in hiding. I have so many questions about that day.
A day like no other
The day before, the sky had gone dark in the middle of the afternoon. The temple curtain tore in two. Some dead people came back to life and walked into Jerusalem. The earth shook. Rocks split in two. Were the people of Jerusalem scared by what it might mean? Had they been able to sleep at all that night?
Can you imagine the atmosphere in the Jerusalem synagogue that Sabbath day? Were the people hoarse from shouting, “Crucify Him!”? Did they regret the day before?
Jesus had healed their lepers and their invalids and their blind. He had fed their hungry, calmed their storms, and even raised Lazarus from the dead. Was it any wonder the earth shook when He died?
Did the people miss Him? Did it seem like it had all been a dream? What did they talk about over Sabbath lunch? Were they eager for life to return to normal, or did they miss Jesus’ unpredictable way of turning everything they had been taught on its head?
Imagine the religious leaders, drunk with delight over finally getting rid of the Jesus who had so challenged their status quo. Did they feel any guilt or remorse? How did they explain the early darkness or the torn curtain or the dead brought back to life? Did any of them now wonder if His claims were true?
The impact of Easter
The women who went to the tomb on Easter morning expected to find His body there. They probably talked about the events of the past few days. They sure didn’t expect what was coming.
They had no idea that Jesus’ body would not be in that tomb and He would be alive forever. They didn’t know that the horrible events of Good Friday were in God’s plan all along. They didn’t know that it was all for their good – and ours.
Because of Easter, we know that even the very worst things that happen are part of God’s plan.
Because of Easter, we know that God loves us more than we could have ever hoped.
Because of Easter, we know that nothing can stop God. Nothing can keep Him from loving us. Nothing can catch Him by surprise.
Because of Easter, we have hope forever. No matter what we face in life, we know that Jesus will be with us and will carry us through it. He will never leave us.
But the people of Jerusalem didn’t know any of that…yet.
On the day before Easter, they knew only that He had been arrested without defending himself. That He had been tortured without protest. That He had died willingly.
They knew He had said He is God. They knew He had promised to care for their every need. And they knew His body lay in a tomb. How they must have felt the tension between trusting His promises and experiencing their very present reality.
Our Easter celebrations will once again be different this year. Fewer family gatherings. Most church services online. Even the White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition that hasn’t been skipped since 1953, has been canceled again. Coronavirus has kidnapped our traditions, our school and work routines, and much of our daily life.
As long as we live in this world, we will be sandwiched between what God has promised for our future and what we are experiencing now. The tension of waiting is felt by all of us.
But we will never feel that tension quite like the people of Jerusalem did on that Saturday long ago.
We will never again have to wonder: Was He – is He – really who He says He is?
Does God have a purpose in all this mess? Will He get us through this pandemic and resulting economic upheaval?
Yes. Easter proves that He will. Because after Saturday comes Sunday.
Copyright 2020 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.