The four gospels do not tell us much about what happened on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This is what we know…
We know that after Jesus died, the disciples stayed behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders who had conspired to put Jesus to death (John 20:19).
Their fear was well-founded because on that Saturday, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and asked him to order the tomb sealed to prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus’ body (Matthew 27:62-66).
After the resurrection, those same religious leaders would bribe the guards so they would spread the rumor that the disciples had indeed stolen Jesus’ body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15).
The huge irony in all of this, was the fact that Jesus’ opponents had a greater belief in his resurrection than his disciples. Unbeknownst to themselves, their fear was actually their testimony.
The only other detail we know about Saturday is that because it was the Sabbath, the women who were with Jesus at the cross rested according to the commandment (Luke 23:56).
In the various Christian traditions this day goes by several names: Holy Saturday, Great Saturday, Easter Eve, and Silent Saturday.
There are not many liturgical practices associated with this day because it is meant for rest and reflection because on this day Jesus “rested” in the tomb.
Often this day is used to prepare food for the great Easter celebration that comes on Sunday. Many churches throughout the ages celebrated the resurrection with the Eucharist, which was of course a full meal and not just a wafer and sip of wine.
Some churches also celebrate the Easter Vigil which begins after sundown on Saturday night (6pm). It is also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, which is a service held as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Essentially, today is a day of rest.
It’s a time to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ great sacrifice (on the Cross) as well as look forward to his resurrection. It’s also a time to consider what all of this might mean for the world as well as my own life.
Through the sacrifice of Jesus God is ultimately putting everything back together. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14):
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out to us in the beloved. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have become God’s inheritance, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he put his seal on you by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
And as we read in Revelations 21:5: “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
Today we reflect on the greater mystery that’s a work in the redemptive work of Christ – God putting the world back together again.
The Hebrew word we read in the Scriptures is “shalom” which holds the meaning of wholeness and restoration.
Sin is the antithesis of shalom. Sin is everything that “breaks” shalom.
The Hebrew word is shabar which means to break into pieces like one would smash a clay pot. Sin shabar shalom. Shalom is the making whole of everything that is shabar. People. Lives. Creation. Life.
Jesus died teaching us about this new Kingdom, or rather a return of the original Kingdom. God’s kingdom. A new heaven and earth. He was killed for claiming such a thing and that He can show the way. He IS the way.
Today we reflect on his act of grace. But we also reflect on this great plan that was set in motion at the foundation of the world. And we reflect on how that changes EVERYTHING.
Life. Death. Light. Darkness. Living. Being. Loving. Giving.
May light and peace fill your life.