I was recently sharing with someone the story of how I’m “embedded” in the church history of my “home church.” My family was one of the first families to join, and my mother was pregnant with me at the time. So I’m one of those “grew up in the church” people. This means that I’m quite familiar with Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. However, it wasn’t until my time in seminary that I became aware of Holy Saturday. I’m not surprised that it’s a day I’ve overlooked for decades. After all, it’s not mentioned in the Bible, there aren’t really any Holy Saturday songs, and I’ve never heard a sermon about Holy Saturday. But it’s an important part of the story of Jesus and those who follow Him.
That day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday may have been one of the hardest in the lives of those who were closest to Jesus, his family and his disciples (not just the appointed ones but all who followed Him). Yes, He had warned them that these days were coming; but it’s one day to be told about something and a whole different thing to experience it. For example: Prior to my first trip to Zambia, I heard many stories from others who had been there. Those stories were helpful . . . but nothing like experiencing Zambia for myself. Back to Holy Saturday.
Being a writer and an introvert who likes to think about things, I often find myself trying to experience the Bible in its context. In other words, when I read about Jesus being living water who will cause us to thirst no more, it’s my natural instinct to read from my 21st century Western context where clean water is available whenever I want it. When I consider how water was experienced during the time when Jesus walked the earth, it has a greater significance. So I couldn’t help but to think about how the followers of Jesus experienced Holy Saturday. It’s one thing to hear Him say that he would arise on the third day. But to experience His horrific crucifixion in person and to see His body laid in a tomb . . . I can imagine that their faith may have started to waver. (The disciples scattered like roaches!) Perhaps they wondered, “What if we had it all wrong? Did we misunderstand Jesus? What do we do now??”
As I understand it, Holy Saturday can be a time of uncertainty. It’s definitely a time of waiting. It’s a reminder to me that sometimes God’s promises unfold over a period of time. Just because it doesn’t happen right away doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. For some of us, our Holy Saturday seems to have been going on for months or even years! But this is a time when faith can grow or die. What promises are you struggling with today? In what ways is your faith being challenged? Will you trust the Word that God gave you and allow your faith to grow during this time of uncertainty?