Today is Holy Saturday (or as I refer to it, Quiet Saturday) the last day of Holy Week. This is the one day that does not get much press in the Gospel accounts; in fact, Mark and John don’t even mention it. Matthew touches upon that Saturday (the Sabbath) by recounting the meeting between the Jewish religious leaders and Pilate. The religious leaders asked Pilate to station guards at Jesus’ tomb, lest his disciples steal his body and claim that Christ had risen from the grave. (Mt. 27.62-66)
This is an interesting point. First, the disciples were no threat to steal away his body, they were all huddled together fearful that Jesus’ fate would soon be theirs. Second, the religious leaders remembered Jesus teaching that he would rise again on the third day, the disciples . . . not so much.
Luke mentions that Saturday very succinctly when he informs us, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” (Lk. 23.56)
Luke’s brief, solitary mentioning of that quiet Saturday seems especially poignant: they rested. And so too did Jesus.
It was a quiet day. A quiet, too quiet day. Jesus was silent. No teaching. No preaching. No miracles. Nothing. Nothing but quiet, silence, dead calm.
But, that’s what should be expected. The Romans didn’t expect to hear anything more from him. The religious leaders believed they had silenced him once and for all. I mean, think about it, that is what happens when you kill a man. You forever silence him. He’s done, finished.
And so now, Jesus has gone the way of all those who came before him and the countless since, he has gone the way of the grave. He has tasted death, the last enemy, and like all before him he has succumbed to its power. It has clutched him and he has gone limp and lifeless.
I picture the disciples all huddled together, behind barred door. Windows shut and fastened tight. The air in that tiny room heavy . . . heavy with thoughts of death. Dark and foreboding, the shadow of the cross laying across each of their minds and hearts.
Hope had surrendered to hopelessness. Light had been vanquished by darkness. Life had succumbed to death. Truth became silence. The Way had become shut and inaccessible. Good had been defeated by evil.
In short, it was over. They may have rested per the commandment, but their minds and hearts raced with fear, disappointment, dread, and utter hopelessness.
On that day, the Resurrection and the Life was buried in a tomb, sealed by a massive stone, guarded by Roman soldiers, and written off . . . not only by his enemies, but even his followers.
It is quiet Saturday.
The Book of Common Prayer has the following prayer for Holy Saturday, may we pray it, may we contemplate it:
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As we meditate on this quiet Saturday let us remember and hold dear the expectant promise of the thirtieth psalm, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30.5)
But Joy comes with the morning . . . even so, come Lord Jesus.