Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. ~ Luke 23:56
With his ascension into heaven, the rescue mission of Jesus to this earth came to an end. As we look back over the record of his stay, a number of days stand out. His birthday is one of those. So were his baptism and his transfiguration. But our attention is drawn most of all to the days that we call Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We tend to skip over the day in between those two highlights.
Sometimes we call it Holy Saturday.
The memories of those who followed him at that time could not skip that Saturday. Think of it! The day before was absolutely horrible. Aged Simeon had warned the mother of Jesus, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). It happened that Friday. All his followers felt the pain. Confused and hurting, they went to their beds that night feeling that the world had crashed around them.
Probably few slept.
We know that Easter Sunday is coming. We realize that in just a little while their pain will turn to joy and their spirits will reach unimagined heights. But, the next day was only Saturday. It was not yet Sunday.
This wasn’t by accident. God had picked the day Jesus would die. He knew that the next day was the Sabbath, when no work should be done—not even the finishing of a burial. He wanted them to go through an entire day when they could do nothing but rest. It must have been difficult for them to do that.
There is a lesson here for us. We did not live through Good Friday, but we have most likely seen dark days that brought pain.
Afterwards, we may have become frustrated with not being able to quickly bounce back. If we needed to undergo physical or mental therapy, it may have seemed that the pain was merely being prolonged. At times like that, we want to be fixed quickly. In any setback, any trauma, even a day’s delay seems too long. We long for the joy and peace of an Easter Sunday. But, sometimes we are stuck in Saturday.
God knows what he is doing. If we must go through a period of time when it seems no progress is being made, when we are caught in a painful problem that we cannot quickly solve, when life clearly is out of our hands—then we remember, our life is in God’s hands.
Those who loved and trusted Jesus needed that Saturday when nothing could be done. They needed time to adjust to the shock of the crucifixion. They needed to know that it was only their Lord that could provide a solution to the problem and relief for their pain.
Only the Lord God was their hope. Only the Lord God had the answer. By the end of Saturday, this was very obvious. The spices and the perfume were not needed. There was no longer a body to bury. It was Sunday, now. Saturday was over.
For us, in our life, it may be the same at times. During days of frustration, and doubt and pain, it is good to remember that this is like that Saturday of old. It is not yet Sunday.
But, Sunday is coming!
Prayer: Lord of life and death, our only help in times of deep trouble and pain, we admit that it is often very hard for us to endure times when we can do nothing to solve our problems. Remind us then of the days of Good Friday and Easter so that we may see that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ. Point our eyes to Holy Saturday that we may understand that you build into our lives times of preparation for blessing. Remind us to wait for you to restore us. Hold us in your hands during the days when it is not yet Sunday. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida. WELS.net