Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Silence of Saturday

Matthew 27:57-66
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

As I've contemplated the Easter season this year, for some reason I keep coming back to think of that Saturday - that in between time when the pain and sorrow of the crucifixion is past but the triumph and exultation of the resurrection is still unknown.

Most of us have seen performances that portray the crucifixion and have heard the noises.  The sounds of those screaming "Crucify Him!" as well as those grieving as they witness Christ's death, the harshness of a hammer pounding the nails into his hands and feet, and Christ proclaiming "It is finished.".   We've heard the sounds of Sunday depicted- the exclamation of the angel telling Mary Magdalene and the other Mary "He is not here, for he has risen!", we can imagine the joy in their voices as they rush to tell the disciples the good news and the footsteps as John and Peter rush to see the empty tomb.

But Saturday.  Oh, Saturday!  The time of confusion, fear, and doubt.  The time when Christ seemingly was absent.  When Christ was SILENT.  The followers of Christ had heard so much from Jesus as they followed Him, times when they were so very aware of Christ's presence.  But now, nothing.

John 19:38-39 tells us that both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus' body, wrapped it in linen and laid Him in the tomb.  The stone was rolled into place, and then they "went away" (Matt. 27:60).  Did you notice where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were?  I had never noticed this before:  They were waiting at the tomb.    Maybe that is what faith looks like.   It was a time for those two to "Be still and KNOW".  I think for them it was a time of waiting and trusting.  Saturday is a hard day.  We desperately want to escape the doubt and the grief and jump straight to the joy and excitement of victory.  However, Jesus used this time of silence to do His best work.  He used His death to conquer death and to bring us life.  He faced the pain and grief to bring us joy and to set us free.

I don't think it is any coincidence that these two women had the honor of being the first to hear the good news of  Christ's resurrection.  May we, in times of silence and waiting, be still  and with hope, prayer and trust remember that the LORD who loves us so deeply is quietly at work behind the scenes bringing about miracles beyond our imagination!