Easter Saturday sits between the death of Christ remembered on Easter Friday and the resurrection celebration of Sunday. But what about Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday is the Saturday over Easter weekend—the day between the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s called Holy Saturday by a bunch of churches around the world because it’s a day set apart (that’s the Holy part) from other Saturdays (that’s the Saturday part).
We generally just call it Saturday … or one of the middle days of Easter Camp … or another day off school … or the day before we get our Easter eggs. But what if we started thinking about it in a different way?
We often hear lots about Good Friday, the day Jesus walked his way up the hill after being tried and beaten and the day he died on the cross. And we often hear lots about Easter Sunday, the day Jesus miraculously got up and walked out of the tomb he was put in a few days earlier.
Saturday seems a bit of a non-event in that regard as nothing really happens. And that’s the point. Nothing happens.
Friday would have been a massive shock for people. There would have been so much noise and anger and protesting and grieving and disbelief.
And Sunday would have been a massive celebration for people. There would have been so much noise and rejoicing and talking and smiling and letting everybody know.
And Saturday … well, that would have been a massive let-down. There would have been so much quiet, so much disappointment, so much uncertainty, not a lot of talking but a lot of crying and waiting and anxiety.
Holy Saturday can be described in these words: the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb.
Sometimes we’re in a rush to get to the resurrection. It’s way more happy, hopeful and exciting. Almost every song that talks about the Easter story has a final verse like, ‘Then on the third at break of dawn the Son of heaven rose again’, or, ‘See the stone is rolled away, behold the empty tomb’, or, ‘Then came the morning that sealed the promise, your buried body began to breathe’, and it’s like we have this need to rush to the final verse and the resurrection part because that’s where all the hope and happy is.
But the crucifixion is as crucial to the full story of hope and redemption of Easter as the resurrection. Someone died for you. Someone literally died for you. Jesus could have saved us a million different ways but the great plan of redemption meant someone was put in your place, took on your full shame and buried that for you. It wasn’t just a click of the fingers or a Control Z on a keyboard, it was someone choosing to go through immense pain and complete separation from his own Father to ensure we are never separated again. And he would still choose to die if you were the only person on earth that needed saving.
That’s worth pausing for. Even Jesus did.
Holy Saturday is often considered the most calm and quiet day of the year (in the Church calendar). It’s a day of rest, of pausing, of reflecting and acknowledging. It’s also often considered the second sabbath (day of rest). The first sabbath was when God created the heavens and the earth, and then on the seventh day rested.
And Holy Saturday is six days after Palm Sunday—the Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem and basically announced (quite humbly, though) to everyone that, ‘Yeah, I really am who I’ve always said I am, I’ve come to be your king’. And seven days later, his body rests in the tomb—the ‘second sabbath’.
While Christ lay in the tomb, the early followers sat and mourned. Thankfully, now, we wait in faith, in hope and anticipation of the resurrection when we celebrate this time! We know the full hope revealed in Easter—we know Sunday is coming.
How good is it that we have a God who knows and isn’t afraid of the discomfort, sadness and the disappointment of this world, while also providing us the hope, comfort and reassurance we need to get through it.
Joy is always sweeter after sadness. Light always looks brighter after some darkness. Acknowledging and pausing in the heaviness and significance of Good Friday and Holy Saturday makes Easter Sunday so much more joyful.
God is still God in the heaviness. In the confusion. In the uncertainty. In the darkness. In the anxious times. And God is still God in the good times. In the joy. In the celebrating. In the highs.
God sits with us in that tension, in the journey. We don’t always need to rush to the good parts, but we can hold on to hope knowing God is with us through all things and has made a way through it.
Why not pause this Easter and sit in that tension with Jesus—acknowledging what he did for you on the Friday as well as the Sunday?
Let’s not rush to the final verse too soon, without considering the first one.