During Holy Week, we remember and set aside special time to celebrate Christ’s death on Friday and his resurrection on Sunday (and some also remember and celebrate the Last Supper that happened on Thursday).
Good Friday is what we have come to refer to the night Christ died on the cross…good because of what his death meant for us and our sin. Good Friday is usually more of a somber celebration. The reality of all that Christ suffered on our behalf, all he went through because of our sin, makes it a more somber type of remembrance.
Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, is the day we celebrate that the grave could not contain Christ. It’s the day Christ rose from the dead, finishing his work to defeat the power of sin and death. As Followers of Christ, it is by far the most important day for us, because without Christ’s resurrection our sin would still hold power over us. His work to take the punishment for our sin in order to free us from its penalty began on Friday with the cross, and ended on Sunday with His resurrection.
But, have you ever wondered about the Saturday that comes between Friday and Sunday? In this Holy Week of remembrance and celebration we refer to it as Holy Saturday. However, we can call it that now because we know he rises…we know Resurrection Sunday is coming. But what was it like 2000+ years ago, the actual day after Jesus was crucified. Have you ever wondered about that Saturday?
Take a moment to think back to when all of this happened. Put yourself in the shoes of Jesus’ disciples for a few moments. Think and see all of this from their perspective. You could even open your Bible and read the account of Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion (Matthew 26 – 27, Mark 14 – 15, Luke 22:47 – 23:56, and John 18 – 19) to remember the details…and as you read, put yourself into the story and try to get a sense of what it was like to watch all of this take place as it was happening.
Just a week ago Jesus had entered Jerusalem with much fanfare and celebration. We refer to this as Palm Sunday. In Matthew 21 it says that as Jesus entered the city…
the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
Then less than a week later the disciples were watching as their rabbi was taken away by the Priests and their officers, falsely accused, taken before Pilate and flogged by the Roman soldiers to the point they barely recognized him, led down the road carrying his own cross, and crucified on that cross like a criminal.
Sunday, Jesus was praised by the crowds. Thursday, he was taken away by the Priests and their officers. Friday, he was crucified. Now it’s Saturday, and Jesus is dead.
Dead. The disciples had left everything in order to follow Jesus. Their entire life the past 3 years had been devoted to following Jesus where he led, doing what he said, and watching him do amazing things. And now he’s dead.
I know I wasn’t there with them, but as a fellow human I am willing to bet that what they felt was complete and utter hopelessness. I’m willing to bet that’s how they felt because it’d be the same way I’d feel…and I’m sure the same way you’d feel too.
It’s that feeling of the rug being pulled out from under you. That feeling where you are blindsided by what just happened. Everything seemed to be going well, and all of a sudden the worst happened…and it happened so quickly and without much warning that the shock of it all hasn’t even worn off yet. The question of “what is happening?!” continues to run through your mind, over and over and over and over and over and over…but there seems to be no real answer coming.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the disciples hadn’t eaten or slept since watching Jesus be crucified last night, maybe even since Jesus was led away by the Roman guards the night before that. The shock of the whole thing, and the feeling of hopelessness that was continuing to build within them had to be overwhelming to the point they didn’t really know what to do, and even the simplest of tasks seemed to be too much in the moment.
Jesus had given them hope, and he was gone. They were now hopeless. The man they loved dearly had been brutally beaten and crucified. They were full of sorrow and sadness. They had devoted their life to the Son of God, and now he was dead. They were sinking into despair.
“Hopeless Saturday”. That is what I think this day should be called, because on that day I’m positive that it’s what it felt like to the disciples and those who loved Jesus. Hopeless. Completely hopeless.
As I said earlier, we have the benefit of knowing what happens tomorrow, so we don’t have to feel hopeless. Plus, if we changed the name of Holy Saturday to Hopeless Saturday, we’d also have to change the name of Friday to something else, because I can guarantee that it wasn’t seen as a Good Friday when it was actually happening. Good Friday and Holy Saturday are named as such because we now know the whole story. But remember that the disciples did not know the whole story. They did not know what tomorrow would bring, so for them it was truly a Saturday filled with hopelessness.
PRAISE GOD that tomorrow is coming!
Before we quit seeing today from the perspective of the disciples, let’s ask ourselves this question: What can we learn from this Hopeless Saturday? We focus on Jesus’ sacrifice and love on Thursday and Friday, and we focus on his salvation and grace and power over sin on Sunday. What can we focus on and learn from today?
One big thing I believe we can learn from reflecting on how the disciples were feeling on this Saturday filled with hopelessness is the simple and real truth that…
without Jesus, there is no real hope
The things in this life, the things we chase after and pursue, the things we long for and try to fill our life with, will never give any real or lasting satisfaction or hope. True satisfaction and hope is only fully found in Jesus. Our life can change often; it can be good one day and bad the next…but Jesus remains the same every day, all the time, no matter what’s happening in this life. He offers us peace when we can’t find any, comfort when life beats us up or doesn’t make sense, and grace and salvation despite the worst things we’ve done. The disciples had spent 3 years of their life seeing all that Jesus did, and they had come to realize that Jesus was so much greater than anything else in this life (check out my book ‘Enough‘, in which I explore the question “do we really believe that God is greater than what this world has to offer?”).
There is much in this world that is appealing and we could spend all our time chasing after. But in the end, it’s all worthless compared to having Christ in your life.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:8)
Today, on this “Hopeless Saturday”, may we reflect on just how hopeless our life would be without Christ. May we remember the way the disciples felt, and may it lead us to make sure we are focused on Christ in our own lives more than anything else. May what we remember from today make tomorrow that much more joyful of a celebration…because Jesus rose from the dead, overcoming the power of sin and death on our behalf, thus restoring hope forever!