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The Heart of Holy Saturday

Yesterday we paused to remember that God the Son was crucified – for blasphemy, of all things. In churches around the world the death of the one and only saviour of humanity was proclaimed on Good Friday morning. We came together to worship God by giving him thanks; acknowledging that the death of the saviour Jesus Christ was an act of pure grace extended towards us, and that without God’s grace-filled intervention on our behalf, we would all be lost.

I also observe every year that for some pastors there remains a strong temptation to make sure that their service doesn’t end on a sombre note; after all, we need to remember Jesus’ death… but we don’t want to risk sending people away sad, so we remind them that “Sunday’s a-coming”. We’ll preach his death, but close the service with a happy song about resurrection victory.

But the paradox of Good Friday is that it does convey a deep seriousness and sadness, and it’s good for us to allow that seriousness to linger longer. Firstly because at the very lowest level of understanding, the fact that the saviour had to die such a scandalous (on many levels) death on our behalf demonstrates to us the seriousness of our sin, and communicates to us in clarion call that we should own the weight of that sin this Holy Saturday. Secondly on this day, Jesus is in the grave. His disciples aren’t reassuring each other that he’s currently securing for himself the very keys to Death and Hades before he emerges from the grave, resurrected in glorious splendor. No, they’re in confused, disoriented grief. What hope do we have now?

This Holy Saturday, let’s not miss the profoundness of this day by being too quick to move from the death of the saviour of the world directly to celebrating the resurrection. Rather (in the words of Jonathan Edwards) let’s remember that the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that made it necessary. Let’s take a moment to think hard upon our sin, remember the infinitely costly price that we could never have paid, and live in thankfulness of the one who gave his life for us.

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