Note: Sunday, April 17, will be our final (and 91st) day for the devotional series.
HOLY SATURDAY LITURGY
"Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment."
MEDITATION | Daniel Snoke
The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is an odd day. Historically Christians have called it "Holy Saturday", but why is it "holy"? Nothing happened on it. We remember Jesus on the cross on Friday, we celebrate his resurrection on Sunday, but we know very little about what took place on Saturday. Did anything happen?
As good citizens of the 21st century, we are trained for action. We love productivity and getting things done, so it is no wonder then that we read Scripture through this lens as well. Christ paid for our sins on a Friday and rose on a Sunday. Like a one-two punch, we approach God's work of salvation with a "get 'her done" attitude. Atonement, check! Resurrection, check! What's next?
If we look closer though, there is a lot that happened on Holy Saturday. We do not know a lot about Joseph of Arimathea, but Scripture says that he was "looking for the kingdom of God." It is no mistake that Joseph prepared the body of Christ for burial on the "day of Preparation." Like a divine reflection on the meaning of Sabbath, Christ accomplished the ultimate work as he died on the Cross, and as his body was prepared for the tomb, his disciples were forced to rest and trust in God's plan of redemption.
Sabbath does not happen because we have finished all of our work. We sabbath because we cease from labor and trust God for his ultimate provision. On this side of heaven, our work and labor will always be mixed with futility and frustration, but as we sabbath, we pause to participate with a part of the heavenly rest we will have when Christ comes again. Joseph and the disciples were forced to pause and participate in this rest as well. Their sins were paid for on the cross, but Christ had not yet been raised from the dead to once and for all defeat death. Would God make good on his promises? How could God use the shameful cross in his plan to establish his Kingdom?
Ceasing from work is hard specifically because we cannot see how things will resolve. "Will my boss love or hate my proposal? Will I be able to finish that project on time? Will my house ever be clean if I don't do it now?" It is in these unknowns that God works through sabbath. If we never stop, we will never let God speak to our doubts. If we never confront our doubts, we will not look for the kingdom of God. This is what Joseph must have known. As a man who "was looking for the kingdom", he boldly asked Pilate for the body of Christ, that he might honor and care for it. In the midst of fear, sorrow, shame, and doubt, Joseph's desire was to be with Christ, even if he was seemingly dead. Sabbath is about choosing to be with Christ, even if his presence in our work is seemingly dead.
So while not a lot happened on Holy Saturday in a grand, cosmic, literal earth-shattering way, a lot happened in the hearts of Christ's disciples. They were forced to see their doubts, sorrows, shame, hope, love, and memories in context of their relationship to Jesus. Even if they did not know it, they too were being prepared for Sunday. God was preparing them not for a grave, but for everlasting life with him.
Today, take time to consider your patterns of sabbath.
2nd Reading: Read Psalm 16 in preparation for Easter.
This is a commonly quoted text in the New Testament. The line "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; you will not let your holy one see corruption" (v.10) was quoted by Peter in his Acts 2 Pentecost sermon and applied to the resurrection of Jesus.
City Reformed Presbyterian Church
The 90 Days project is a collaborative effort of many church leaders. Matt Koerber and Daniel Snoke have taken lead roles, with others helping to write daily devotionals.