Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days – John 2:19(NIV)
Many Christian faith traditions celebrate Maundy Thursday, sometimes called “Holy Thursday” and all commemorate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If looked at sequentially, Thursday, Friday, Sunday, one day is missing – Saturday. A few traditions do celebrate Holy Saturday, but for most part the day falls eerily silent without much notice. This is perhaps to be expected since the Bible does not record any activity taking place on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Thursday we have the last Supper, the betrayal and the trials of Jesus. On Friday, we have the crucifixion and on Sunday there is of course the capstone event of the resurrection. Many faith traditions teach that on Saturday Jesus descended to the realm of the dead, sometimes translated as hell, to preach the Gospel and save righteous souls who died before his crucifixion. Others suggest there is little scriptural evidence to support this view. At best we are left to speculate.
Speaking of speculation, can you image what must have been going through the minds of the Apostles and Jesus’ other followers on Saturday? Scripture does record some of their insights. Luke 24:20-21 records the conversation of one of Jesus’ followers, Cleopas, “The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (NIV).
I can imagine what Peter was thinking, who had told Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!” (Luke 18:28 -NIV). Although Peter spoke his words as a statement, the implied question was, “we’ve left everything to follow you, what will you do for us in return?” Jesus answers the unasked question, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (verses 29-30). Peter walked on the water at Jesus’ command, he witnessed the feedings of the 5,000 and 4,000, and he along with James and John saw the glorified Christ along with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. He even declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. However confronted with the current reality of Jesus’ death, Peter might well has concluded that his faith and trust in Jesus was misguided and that Jesus ultimately was a sham after all.
Sooner or later, we will all face our “silent Saturdays” when what we hoped for and in has apparently died and been buried. We are confused, bewildered and left to flounder. We resonate with Jeremiah when he penned these words in Lamentations 3:18, so I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”(NIV). Life’s periods between death and resurrection are often the most difficult. Pastor Rick Warren has said, “When God open’s one door, he closes another, but the waiting in the hall, can be torture.”
When the calendar of our lives rests of the silent Saturday and we find ourselves waiting in hall, let us remind ourselves that in God economy, death often precedes new life. Jesus, speaking of his own death tells his disciples in John 12:24, I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, death and silence do not equal stagnation. They are merely our means on transport to a better and new life – a resurrected life.