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.

3 Comments on “Black Saturday

  1. Pingback: Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #13 Matthew 27:62-66 – Guards Seal the Tomb Against an Imposter | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

  2. You very strangely write “Too bad the leaders didn’t admit that Jesus was God, that the One Who had given man rest would honour that rest.” on one side saying Jesus would so called be God and on the other hand saying God would have given Jesus rest.

    Good the soldiers and other people around the stake did not believe Jesus would be God. All should also know that man can do God nothing and that God cannot be killed. Fort the religious leaders Jesus was an imposter. They would have reason to think so in case Jesus would have been God. Because then he would have lied several times, though Scriptures tells mankind that God is no liar and that He knows everything and can do everything. Though Jesus had to learn everything and near the end of his life still did not know a lot of things. In case he would be God he naturally would not have told the truth and as such would have lied and sinned (because that is what is sin).

    You, believing Jesus to be God, should better have a look at words spoken by Jesus and his God which clearly tell us about the position of those two Biblical characters. Mankind has to believe in the sent one from God who was declared by God Himself as His only begotten beloved son.

    “16 Having been baptized, and rising from the water, immediately, look! the skies were opened up. Jesus saw God’s Pneuma descending as if a dove lighting upon him. 17 Look! a Voice out of the Sky, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”” (Mt 3:16-17 mhm)

    Please think about those words and come to see that Jesus is the way to God (and not to himself).

    “Jesus said to Thomas: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can approach the Father, if not through me.” (Joh 14:6 mhm)

    “I tell you this truth: The person who listens to my word and continues to believe in the One who sent me possesses endless Life. And so that person does not come into condemnation, but has crossed over from the Death unto the Life.” (Joh 5:24 mhm)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, my friend, as I read your words, I wonder if in any of your study of the Bible, you have heard of the concept of God as a Triune God, which means three in one. This does not mean three gods but three persons making one God. It is a concept that blows my mind, that I find so difficult to explain, that I believe by faith. I will try to explain it anyway.

      First, I want to acknowledge that the language I use is borrowed from the British author Dorothy Sayers. (For further study, read The Mind of the Maker.)

      God is one eternal, omnipotent Creator, but He is also the crucified and risen Redeemer, and the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Pneuma as you called it). How can this be? Here I borrow Sayers analogy. A maker, an artist, develops an idea of what it is he wants to make; he then makes his work; and finally, what he has made is communicated in power to an audience. There are three words used to summarize these steps: Idea, Energy, Power.

      God the Father is the Idea, the source from which all that is flows. God the Son (Jesus the Word) is the Energy. So in the beginning in Genesis, when God said, “Let there be light,” it was God the Father’s Idea, but God the Son was the Word that went out into the world and made physical the Idea. You quoted the Apostle John, and I will quote him now as well. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:1-3 If you would read on in that chapter, you’ll read of John the Baptist being sent to bear witness of Jesus the Light of the World, the promised Messiah. The fourteenth verse of this chapter is one of my favourites: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The verses you quoted above about Jesus’ baptism are actually, in my mind, proof of the Triune God (also known as the Trinity). God the Father is blessing God the Son with God the Spirit.

      It is fitting, too, that the Bible is called The Word of God, because it is a physical representation of the Idea of the Father. As we read it, we learn of the Father’s glory. We could not know the Idea of the Father without some physical representation, which is why Jesus says, “No one can approach the Father, if not through me.”

      So what of God the Spirit? Romans 8:14-16 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” The role of the Spirit is to communicate with people. While Jesus was here, not everyone recognized Him as God. We can only see this if God’s Spirit is working within us. Returning to Sayers’ analogy above, just because I as an artist (let’s say a writer) write a message does not mean that you as a reader understand what I am communicating. It requires the spirit of the idea in my mind communicating the idea to your mind before we have understood. each other. This is why the words about the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit are so profound and beautiful to me.

      I am continually in awe that God the Father so clearly wanted to communicate His love for us that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us and He has left His Holy Spirit to communicate this truth to us.

      I understand that you may still question the deity of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah foretold His coming. Just this morning, I was reading Isaiah 9. The first verses talk about the darkness oppressing God’s people, which we see at the time of Jesus with the Roman rule. However, verse 2 tells how these people have “seen a great light.” Remember that John 1 referred to Jesus as the Light. Then in Isaiah 6:9 we are told, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Clearly, the child born to Mary was the Son of God.

      Matthew 1:23 tells us, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Jesus was the Idea of God made physical among us.

      Paul also writes in Philippians 2: 5-9 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” Paul clearly states that Jesus exchanged His God form for a man form. (I should really study into the significance of the word “form” in Paul’s day in Philippi.)

      Therefore, the physical world could kill the physical form of God walking among men as a man, but they could not destroy the Idea of the Love of God and the Life of God broke through the chains of death when Jesus rose again.

      So, back to the phrase you questioned earlier, “Too bad the leaders didn’t admit that Jesus was God, that the One Who had given man rest would honour that rest.” I’ll admit that part of this is my speculation. I don’t know whether or not the religious leaders recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but they should have been able to from what they knew in the Torah. However, they may have chosen to remain ignorant of this reality, because it didn’t suit there expectations. I was not there. I cannot know.

      However, God made the Sabbath for man in Genesis. He did not need the rest Himself, but He created it. Jesus, having been crucified as a man, honoured the Sabbath by not rising, not working on that day. Did He need that rest? As God, “No.” As man, “Yes.”

      My comment here merely points out that the religious leaders should have known that God instated the Sabbath as a day of rest, so if they had recognized or admitted He was God, they could have known that He wouldn’t rise that day. The theme of rest has been a profound part of my spiritual journey in the past few years, so I am always intrigued when I notice it in unexpected places, like Jesus not rising on the Sabbath, though He could have.

      Thank you for your questions, for challenging me. I hope I have understood the spirit of what you wished to say. If I have not, please ask follow-up questions. Also, I am curious. Are you reading this in Belgian?

      The Lord bless you and keep you.


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