Black Saturday

The irony of Saturday: the religious leaders broke the law.

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.”

Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.”

So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 27:66

Those Pharisees banded together, approached the unclean Romans, and asked for a guard for Jesus’ tomb–on the Sabbath. Even Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, rested in the grave. He could have sprung from the grip of death immediately and risen that Sabbath morn, but He didn’t. Too bad the leaders didn’t admit that Jesus was God, that the One Who had given man rest would honour that rest. They could have at least waited until Sabbath sundown to set that guard.

Artwork by Bethanie Lichty

For the rest of the world, Saturday is silent. Somewhere, disciples huddled in hiding, every image of Jesus’ walk on earth in their minds was shrouded with a cloak of doubt. All those miracles, the blind seeing, wine appearing, dead rising, only to end in boulder-blocked grave.

Why did God wait to rise? Why did He put His precious disciples through the torture of waiting those twenty four hours. Why leave them alone with their doubt and terror? Why has God allowed a virus to shackle us in place with the fear of tomorrow’s world? Why does God allow life to get so incredibly dark before He shines through?

Even though we live on this side of the Resurrection, even though we have seen death and sin defeated in the pages of Scripture and in the darkest crannies of our hearts, we still have days of doubt when God seems far away. Like a Jew outside the temple, we believe God is visiting His people, but the curtain between us and the Holy of Holies hangs impenetrable. Comprehending God’s ways feels impossible.

It’s easy to forget that the curtain has been rent, and we have access to God Himself.

Why does God allow days thick with silence?

Beyond the grave, Jesus found the huddled disciples–the doubting one–and gave him these words, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet still believe.” (John 20:29) From cover to cover, God’s Word proclaims how invested He is in our faith.

Because of Abraham’s faith, God counted Him righteous. The Hebrew writer adds, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The same writer also tells us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:6, 1)

These black holes of silence, of darkness, of not feeling God–these are the seedbeds of faith. Full, living, vibrant faith grows in the dark, pushing up towards the Son that it cannot see or feel, but knows is there.

Jesus, we believe you are the Light of the World, that you have broken the chains of sin and darkness, and that You are with us even when we cannot sense Your Presence. God, we choose to believe that You are always good. Grow our faith. In Your Precious Name, we pray. A-men.

*If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here: Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. I’ll be posting the final post in this series tomorrow. Thanks for joining me on this journey through Holy Week.

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