An Easter Meditation by Ben Huffine
Bear with me a minute as I try to preface what I’m about to say because it may seem a little odd. On this Easter Sunday morning I’m not going to talk directly about today, but rather I’m going to talk about yesterday, the eve of Easter. I want to reflect for a moment on that Jewish Sabbath day that fell between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, what I’m going to call the “forgotten Saturday” because in the midst of Holy Week it’s not a day that gets much reflection. Between our remembrance of the exhaustion of the wrath of God poured out on Christ hanging on the cross on Good Friday and our celebration of the victory over death in the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday, sits a dark and confusing Saturday. To misuse a theological term, this is a day of the already but not yet.
For whatever reason each year at this sunrise service I find myself reflecting on that forgotten
Saturday and the already but not yet nature of our lives. As I look to the ridge and wait for the
sun to creep over the top and begin to warm us I reflect on how Good Friday has come and
gone but I’m not sure that my heart is quite ready for Easter.
I submit to you that even though we don’t often think about the forgotten Saturday it’s not a mistake that it is there. Scripture doesn’t tell us much about that Saturday. Matthew tells us that soldiers were sent to guard the tomb and Luke tells us that the women who prepared the spices for Jesus’ body rested on that Sabbath in observance of the commandment but other than that we don’t really know what anyone was doing.
When we first learn of the disciples on Sunday morning they are found hiding behind locked
doors in fear of the world outside, and I think it’s safe to assume that their circumstances were
not much different on that Saturday, just one day before. I can only imagine the doubt and
confusion that surrounded those who had spent the previous years of their lives following Jesus, stood beside him as He fulfilled the prophecies and was declared King, and then watched in horror as He died a criminal’s death.
What must they have been thinking given all that they knew about what Jesus did and what He
claimed to be? How could any of it be true now that He was dead and gone? Was not their
doubt, confusion, and fear understandable? I can certainly understand it. The victory of the
cross, that we now understand, was certainly shrouded from their eyes in a cover of defeat.
To be honest with you, I think that we live most of our lives in the middle of that forgotten
Saturday, in between the forgiveness of the cross and the power of the resurrection. We know
that our Lord declared “it is finished” on the cross but we look around and ask, “what was
finished and where has it left me? Where is this victory that was won? If death has been
defeated why is there still so much of it?”
When a Coptic church in Egypt is bombed on Palm Sunday and 44 are killed and more than a
hundred more injured and our heart cries out, “mercy!” Then we are drawn into the locked room in midst that forgotten Saturday.
When we see images of the brutal suffering and death brought on by chlorine gas in Syria and our soul weeps at the horror. We are living in that forgotten Saturday.
When children die in the womb before their parents even have the chance to hold them and tell them they are loved, and we groan to God with unutterable words. We are living in that forgotten Saturday.
When those we love are diagnosed with cancer once more and must stare in the face of doubt and uncertainty and we scream at God, “why?” We are living in that forgotten Saturday.
But even in the less dramatic and more mundane things.
When the words of our own confession of sin have worn a rut in our soul because we have asked forgiveness for that same sin over and over again but can’t seem to find the true repentance that causes us to actually run from it. When it feels like the blood of Christ on the cross is unable to wash out that thorn in our side.
When the joy of our salvation has grown dim and we find ourselves going through one more day without giving thought to the glorious gift we have received.
When we stand in the midst of the body of Christ but feel alone and isolated because though we have heard over and over again the truth of the gospel and the freedom it offers we just can’t seem to believe that we could be loved because we know the depth of our own sin and we hear the voice of shame accuse us once again.
When we can’t seem to love our brother or sister because the reality of the pain they have caused is too real.
When relationships crumble around us because there are vile sinners on both sides.
When marriages fail and families are divided.
Any of the realities of this life that cause us to fear and doubt the truth of the victory of Calvary, these are our forgotten Saturdays. They drive us into a locked room of our heart away from our joyous victory.
I submit to you that the forgotten Saturday is very real and very important. We must face it. We cannot ignore the agony of sitting in that room with the disciples and the doubt and confusion of looking at the cross of Jesus and not seeing victory but only defeat. To ignore that locked room and the darkness found there is to ignore the truth of our own lives. It is in that room, on that forgotten Saturday where we must face the reality that but for the fact that the forgotten Saturday is in between and not the end, there would be no hope.
But, take heart brothers and sisters. Even as we sit in that darkness on the forgotten Saturday,
Sunday is coming. Just as the sun is rising, so too the Son of God has risen. Christ does not
leave us alone in that room. In fact, in Luke 24 we find the disciples, on Sunday morning, hiding
in their room but vs. 36 tells us this, “ While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” And while we are in that dark room on the forgotten Saturdays of our lives Jesus himself breaks into our darkness, through our locked doors, and says, “Peace be with you.”
There is a great passage in Philippians 3 where Paul is talking about the surpassing greatness
of knowing Christ and how everything else is rubbish. In the middle of that passage, in verses
10 and 11, he says this, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the
fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to
attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
As elders of the church, in our calling to be shepherds of the congregation, we are often called
upon to share in the suffering of others that we might pray with them and care for them. To
follow our metaphor, we enter into their dark room on their forgotten Saturday. The times that I have had a chance to do this I can truly say I have understood the fellowship of sharing in their suffering. There is a deep fellowship to be found as we share in the suffering of others and an even deeper fellowship to be found as we share in the sufferings of our savior. In so doing we become like Him in His death.
Fellowship, of course, is not a one way transaction. As we share in His suffering, He shares His
fellowship with us. We are near to Christ because He draws near to us. When we are locked
away in our darkened room He is suddenly standing with us and declaring, “Peace be with you.” And He, the Prince of Peace, brings that peace with Him because He Himself is our Peace.
He breaks in to the forgotten Saturday of unspeakable evil and says, “peace be with you, I am
the Mighty God and of the increase of my government and peace there will be no end.”
He breaks in to the forgotten Saturday of death and disease and says, “peace be with you, I am
the author and sustainer of life and in the midst of your pain I am the Wonderful Counselor.”
He breaks in to the forgotten Saturday where in your locked room the voice of guilt and shame
tries to shout over the voice of truth and He declares, “peace be with you, I have nailed that
shame to the cross, it is no more.”
He breaks in to the forgotten Saturday of our lacking and wearied faith and declares, “peace be with you, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He breaks in to the forgotten Saturday of our broken relationships and declares, “peace be with you, I have come to reconcile all things to myself for I am the Good Shepherd”
When we sit in that locked room, in the darkness of our circumstances sitting between the
knowledge of our forgiveness and the doubt of our victory, the Prince of Peace himself breaks in to our darkness and teaches us a new song. A song of victory that causes our feet to dance the dance of the redeemed as those who are living a new resurrection life.
The grand arc of history has four stops; creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
In the beginning, our Lord, for no other reason than His own good pleasure, spoke into the void
and created from nothing all that is. When He finished His creation He declared that it was
Into that good creation we brought sin and the Fall, and with it the curse that brought death,
decay and, corruption to every piece of creation.
Into the reality of that curse our Lord and Savior took on the form of man, lived, died, and rose
again that His blessings might flow “far as the curse is found.”
And it is in this state that we now await the final restoration when Christ will return and usher in the new Heaven and the new Earth and forever rid us of those forgotten Saturdays. For then we will forever live in the light of the eternal Easter Sunday. Death and the curse will be swallowed up in victory. There will be no need to hide in locked rooms, wondering what it is that He finished on the cross. All doubts will be answered, all fears driven away, all shame forgotten for the Lord Jesus sits on the throne and He continues to declare, “Peace be with you.”
Maranatha! Come quickly Lord!