…an Easter meditation
"Holy Week" commences with Palm Sunday and culminates with Easter Sunday.
In the interest of time and getting to the point, let’s hop over Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday…
… landing right at Holy Saturday (aka Black Saturday).
The Saturday immediately following the crucifixion had to have been history’s darkest day. It was a Sabbath (and possibly/probably the Passover), a day of worship, rest and reflection. It was supposed to be a time of thanksgiving. Yet, this one day occurred under the long, dark shadow of the murder of Jesus. A shadow that took the shape of the cross.
This had to have been the most hopeless day, well, ever.
Just six days earlier, Jesus entered Jerusalem to what may be the first recorded crowd Wave, as the Jewish population celebrated the arrival of the man they thought would lead them to political independence and freedom. How quickly those misplaced expectations collapsed. Now, their anticipated hero was dead, wrapped in burial cloths in a borrowed tomb, because they jumped on the bandwagon of hate, and demanded that he be killed because he didn’t give them exactly what they wanted.
When he didn’t deliver, they had him nailed to a cross.
They had him tortured. then murdered.
He left them…
Through the lens of the Bible, this is the most hopeless day in history.* Before then, the world had a hope and a promise of a deliverer, a Savior. After the resurrection revelation of the next day (Sunday), history has a immeasurably more hopeful/expectant outlook because their understanding of deliverance and salvation was radically and eternally redefined. Yet on that one Saturday, we have no indication that anybody had hope.
The dark of hopelessness was overwhelming:
Hopelessness chased the disciples of Jesus into hiding, fearful that they’d be identified with “that imposter.”
Hopelessness ushered covert God-seekers Joseph and Nicodemus to wrap Jesus’ body and place him in a borrowed tomb.
Hopelessness compelled the loyal women who cared for Jesus to sit outside that tomb and wait for the Sabbath to pass over, when they could return and tend to his corpse as a final measure of respect and devotion.
On this one day, there was no expectation of things getting better. There was no imminent hope of victory. On this one day, at least according to the available evidence, there was only the pervasive sense of defeat, of failure, and of loss.
Can you imagine such a world without hope?
A lot of people do…every day.
Even though the resurrection has happened, the world is filled with people who functionally have no hope. They wake up each morning with no expectation that today will be better than yesterday. For them, “tomorrow” will always be a day away, offering no encouragement and only more sorrow that looks much like today’s sorrow. They bravely push forward, slogging onward, despite having no expectation of a final victory, of welcoming celebrating a job well done, much less a life well lived.
Their every day is that one Saturday before the resurrection.
Can you even imagine?
But you, Christ-follower, you have hope.
Remember, if you can, that you were separated from Christ, having no hope and without God in the world. But Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace. Accordingly, we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.
Because of Jesus, every day is Resurrection Sunday.
Every day is Easter.
Every single day, you are able to wake up with the expectation that God’s Spirit is as near as you invite Him to be. You know that you face no challenge alone. You face no difficulty on your own. You have a final victory awaiting, God’s warm embrace to rewards you for His life, well lived, saving even you!
This is why Black Saturday is Holy Saturday.
Because that singular and singularly hopeless Saturday was the anomaly, the exception, and not the norm.
Because before God said “in the beginning,” he had determined that there would only be one Black Saturday (and Jesus had even publicly said three different times that He’d be back by Sunday).
Because he determined before time began that he would go to the cross, he would satisfy God’s wrath against his creation’s betrayal, and he would deliver his children from the oppression far worse than Israel’s Roman occupiers. He would save them.
And in him, the Gentiles would find hope.
Can you even imagine?
And if you have received hope in Jesus, if you experience hope in His abiding presence, then your privilege is to share this hope with others.
Do not be like those fearful disciples or covert believers whose message was muted and mouths were closed.
Instead, be like those loyal women who were the first to report, “He’s alive!” to anyone who would listen.
How will they know unless they hear?
How will they hear unless they are told?
How will they tell unless they are sent?
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Rejoice in hope!
The four #unashamed crowds from @scottsdalebible weekend #baptism (plus six more from our Cactus Campus!)