By Natalie Seale
Holy Saturday is a strange one, isn’t it?
In our eagerness to celebrate the empty tomb, we have a tendency to overlook this most unique of days.
For this is the day between the death and resurrection: the only day when Jesus’ body lay dead and buried in a grave, wrapped in cloths and protected by the weighty stone that had closed the tomb.
In contrast to Good Friday, when scripture gives us a blow-by-blow account of the events of every hour, there is almost nothing to tell us about what was going on on Holy Saturday. Perhaps Jesus’ family and friends had met together to cry and talk about what had happened. Perhaps they stayed at home out of fear that they, too, might meet the same fate through association. What we do know about this day is that the memories of what Jesus had said when He was alive had descended on those who were responsible for his death.
Jesus had declared on several occasions that he would die in Jerusalem at the hands of the Sanhedrin, but that he was also going to rise again. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that whilst the Chief Priests had dismissed this kind of talk when Jesus was still alive, the fact that he had know what they would do before it had even happened unnerved them (Matthew 27: 62-66). After all, they had fulfilled the first part of his prediction by crucifying him. Now he was dead, they were plagued by thoughts that maybe he might have been right. Coupled with the unnatural black darkness that had fallen over Jerusalem when Jesus had died, they were starting to get pretty worried.
Unable to shake their concerns, a few of the Chief Priests went to meet with Pontius Pilate. They explained that although they still believed that Jesus couldn’t possibly be who he said he was – that is, the Son of God – they were concerned that His disciples might try to steal the body and make a scene. Pilate listened to them, and offered them some reassurance in the form of a small group of soldiers who would be stationed outside the tomb.
Holy Saturday is the quiet day, the day for watching and waiting. We are blessed with the knowledge that joy will come in the morning, but we still have to mark the only day when Jesus was dead and buried. That can feel heavy and strange. It isn’t time to celebrate – yet – but a time to reflect on the power of the Cross and enormity of the sacrifice of Father and Son.
“He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all –how will
he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Natalie is a Yorkshire lass who recently moved all the way to San Antonio, Texas, to live with her husband Quincy. She has a PhD in Renaissance history and until recently taught undergrads and post-grads at the University of Edinburgh. Her passion is for teaching, but in the process of applying for a visa she discovered a new love for writing devotionals and lettering by hand. Good coffee, old books, family time, warm jumpers and Texas sunsets are some of her favourite things. Her heart is to live a life full of the love and joy of God, and in doing so help others to achieve their potential.