June 4, 2020

Hopeless Saturday

A series for Holy Week.
Thanks to Lisa Dye and Jeff Dunn for this meditation.

HOPELESS SATURDAY

Scripture

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of a God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.”

Luke 24: 17-21 NLT

Meditation

Jesus is dead. We saw him die yesterday. His blood stains the cross that is still standing on a nearby hill. We saw his body wrapped in linen and placed in a cave with a large rock rolled in front. A Roman guard is stationed in front of the cave to prevent any of us, Jesus’ followers, from breaking in and stealing the body.

Jesus’ followers. What a laugh. We followed, all right. Followed Jesus away from our families, away from our friends, away from our jobs. and for what? We were promised a kingdom, but now the king is dead and we are wanted men. We are in hiding, staying out of sight of the Pharisees. If they find us now, well, they will ask Pilate for more crosses. But if we can stay hidden for a while, maybe they will forget about us. There will be another claiming to be something special, another so-called Messiah, and the Pharisees will chase after him and his followers.

But what about us? We left all to follow the one we really thought was different. We saw what we thought were miracles–but Jesus couldn’t even save himself. What miracle worker lets himself be killed? We heard his words about love, about going farther than we are asked to go, about trusting God. We stuck with him when he said we would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We didn’t understand it, but we stood by him. And now he has deserted us.

He said to trust him, and we did. But now he’s gone, and he has taken with him our lives. He has taken our families and our livelihoods. He has taken our freedom (at least for now) and our courage.

He has taken with him our hope.

We are, of all men, most miserable. We have no where else to turn. Peter says when it is safe to leave the room where we are hidden, he’s going to try to start his fishing business again. We don’t really care. We don’t care about anything. We just sit and think. That is the hardest thing–we are trapped in here with all of our thoughts, all of our memories. We can’t escape them.

There is nothing left. Darkness has become our friend, but now even the darkness is starting to fade.

The sun is coming over the hill.

Action
Christ’s followers needed to wait for Sunday’s resurrection to recognize the fulfillment of His trek to the cross. They needed to live through their Saturday – a limbo of uncertainty and inaction between death and new life. For us, it is a different story. We have been given a seamless segue from Friday to Sunday, from death to life, with no Saturday in between.

Why then do we, by and large, live our lives indefinitely stuck in Saturday? Perhaps it’s that we haven’t comprehended that God’s intention was not merely to make us fit for Heaven at our death, but to impart His life to us while we still breathe – to bring resurrection to our broken, earthbound existences.

Many are familiar with the story from Luke 4 when Jesus fasted and endured Satan’s temptations in a desert wilderness for forty days. Just after that, He inaugurated His ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth. Standing and unrolling the scroll with the words of Isaiah, chapter 61, He began to read His mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim freedom for the captives
And release from darkness for the prisoners,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …”

Clearly, He intended that good news, that freedom and that release for us as we live on earth and not something He’s saving for us in Heaven. Who there could ever be said to be poor, or brokenhearted or captive? No, Christ’s resurrection is meant to be manifested in His people in their earthly lives.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s words, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more having been reconciled, shall we be saved, through his life!” (Romans 5:10 NIV).

His death on Friday served to accomplish reconciliation. (The Greek for ‘reconcile’ is katalasso – changed to be made acceptable.) Made acceptable to God by Christ’s death, our eternal position is secured, once and for all.

His coming to life is what accomplishes our salvation. (The Greek for ‘to save’ is sozo – to make whole, to protect, to heal and to restore.) This restoration is what is described in Isaiah 61.

God loves us so much that He would never leave us in a fallen and hopeless Thursday. He would not bring us only through Friday, reconciled to Him, but still brokenhearted and captive. Neither is He content to leave us languishing in a life of stalled-out Saturdays. No, our loving Father’s most passionate purpose is for us to live now and for always in the joy of Sunday.

Prayer
Jesus, give us hearts that are willing to come purposefully before you to receive your healing and restoration. Rebuild the ruins of our lives so that we reflect the life you intend for us here and now. Replace our dark and hopeless Saturdays by the light of a lifetime of Resurrection Sundays.

Chorus
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Comments

  1. Amy Welborn has a history of the Stations of the Cross at:
    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Catholic/2010/03/Stations-of-the-Cross.aspx

  2. Christiane says

    Holy Saturday, according to [St.] Epiphanius of Cyprus.

    “Something strange is happening … there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
    He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”….

  3. Thank you for posting these beautiful meditations on the Stations. I would like to ask everyone who is praying them, to please pray for a young man named Patrick from my church. He was struck by a car early yesterday morning and is in critical condition, not expected to survive the day. Please pray that God will allow his family to be rescued by Christ from the depths of their suffering.