As I write this, we are literally just a few hours from the Easter Vigil. We are so close to the celebration of the most important event in history. Can we just fast forward to it, already?
Sadly, no. I need to stay in this Lenten season just a bit longer. I need to remain in that place and time with the Apostles—when they were bewildered, in despair, when their world was in turmoil, when their teacher, Messiah, and friend, was dead. And everything seemed lost.
Because there’s something really interesting about Holy Saturday. Can you imagine how the Apostles might have felt? They spent the last three years following around this extraordinary teacher and miracle maker. Who, in fact, was more than a teacher. This guy claimed to be God.
But things change on Thursday. The Apostles watch as Jesus is sentenced to the Cross. We tend to forget that the Cross was the worst and most painful form of execution of the day It’s reserved for the worst of criminals. Still, the Apostles watch as Jesus takes up His Cross. They watch as His clothes are cast for lots, and as nails are driven into His hands and feet. They’re thinking to themselves, “He claimed to be God! He can fix it! He can stop this!”
No. Jesus dies. The guy that was supposed to be our Savior, dies. People take Jesus’ lifeless body down from the Cross and secretly lay Him in a tomb. And then, nothing. Through all of the night of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, there is nothing but silence. God seems distant, aloof, and actually absent.
How would you feel as an Apostle?
I used to love this show called Lost. In season one, one of the main characters, Locke, becomes obsessed with opening this hatch in the ground. He is utterly convinced that this is something he HAS to do. And yet, nothing seems to be working. At his breaking point, Locke calls up to the heavens, “I’ve done everything you wanted me to do! So why did you do this to me?!”
That’s what the Apostles are doing on Holy Saturday.
Jesus is dead and the Apostles are scattered. By all standards, as far as Saturday is concerned, the Gospel Message has failed.
But Christianity didn’t fail. Tomorrow, Jesus will rise from the dead. Christianity will spread all over the world, and the little humans, AKA children, will go Easter egg hunting.
I think there’s a really cool lesson in here, for all of us. Christianity started in a moment of perceived failure. In the eyes of the world, it seems like foolishness. But the Cross and Good Friday are actually what brings us salvation.
We all have our own crosses and face our own Good Fridays. Doors close on us, relationships don’t work out, family members and friends die. Or maybe we just experience the simple loneliness and isolation that comes from simply being a human being.
And we all go through our own Holy Saturdays. Maybe, God didn’t answer that prayer, maybe God seems like He’s far off, or maybe we’re just stuck, asking, “Now what?”
Here’s the thing, friends, we are not alone. The Apostles, Mary, and God Himself goes through Good Friday and Holy Saturday with us. On Good Friday, we witness the perceived failure of the Gospel Message. We witness Jesus, asking for this “cup of suffering to pass”and we witness the Father saying “no”. We witness the loneliness and abandonment Jesus feels as his closest friends run away and deny ever knowing Him. We witness Mary, weeping over the body of her dead son. We witness the Apostles, distraught because nothing went according to plan. And we witness disciples waiting on the Lord despite everything.
And after all of that, Christ rises from the dead! He conquers the grave!
But you have to get through Good Friday. And then! you have to get through Holy Saturday.
You are going to have a cross with or without Christ. But Christ gives your cross meaning. Jesus doesn’t tell us that what happens to us is good, or that we won’t suffer. Instead, He tells us that he will bring something good out of our crosses. He’s going to change and use our Good Friday to bring about Easter Sunday.
The harder the Good Friday, the more glorious the Easter Sunday. On Easter, Jesus comes to us and says, “Hey! Look at all this evil and sin I just contoured! I overcame death!”. As cringe-worthy and cliché as it sounds, the darker the night the brighter the dawn. God wants to show us His power so that we can see just how much he loves us and wants to be with us. Like a lover wants to woo His bride, , God woos us through Easter and the Resurrection. He even takes our little Good Fridays and transforms them to little Easters.
I had a little Good Friday when I didn’t get a certain opportunity that I really wanted after college. I kind of felt a little lost and discouraged. My Holy Saturday was the time I spent asking God for direction and not feeling like God was answering. My little Easter was finally just deciding to go to grad. school and making the most holy friendship I might ever know.
God took my plans, reminded me I was not God, and showed me His glory by giving me something–dare I say it–better than what I wanted.
I’ve had friends who have experienced their own Good Fridays through broken relationships, failed endeavors, or simply not getting a certain job. But, when I talk to them three years later, they tell me they’ve had their own little Easters. If one friend’s relationship had not ended, my friend wouldn’t be marring this very holy guy. In another case, if my one friend’s endeavor had not crashed and burned, they would not be doing what they love to be doing, right now.
Likewise, I’ve meant people who experienced Good Fridays through things like tragedy, mental illness, or addiction. Again, these are terrible things, but God still brought about Easter for them. They now console others who face the same issues, and have incredibly close relationships with the Lord.
Maybe you’re in the middle of your Good Friday. Maybe life just is not going the way you planned, you feel depressed, or you’re dealing with illness. Find strength in meditating on the Passion, and comfort in knowing that God went through it too. Look to the Cross and look to Christ. If Jesus can conquer death and all the sin of humanity, He’ll bring you to your Easter Sunday, too.
Or maybe you’re in the middle of your Holy Saturday. Maybe you’re a little bit directionless and wondering, “now what?”. In some ways, I’m right there with you. After God closed a door that I was sure he was calling me to, I’m in the middle of asking, “Um..,okay…what the beep, Lord?”.
And, if you’re with me, I’m going to say something that will make me roll my eyes at myself. Keep asking and wrestling with the Lord. Keep communicating.
And if you’re in a time of Easter, hold on to this experience. Because,you’ll need to remember this for later.
Christ is risen! Have a blessed Easter!
Ps: I’ll buy anyone a beer or cup of coffee who caught the very settle Grey s Anatomy reference. I don’t think you can do it.