Happy Holy Saturday Friends! Do not let COVID take away from the celebration of this great weekend. And while it may seem like the wrong time to celebrate anything since so many are suffering, dying, or working in dangerous and desperate conditions, this is a weekend of celebration none-the-less. We have a constant celebration when observing the glory of Easter. This is our celebration in our Lord and Savior defeating death, a victory Jesus won on the cross for all of mankind.
Yesterday, a dear friend brought to our attention a “Worldwide Good Friday Concert” put on by Chris Tomlin and the great Max Lucado. Pastor Lucado preached an amazing word on “Silent Saturday.” As you’ll read in my DD below, I call the Saturday and Sunday after Good Friday as the “in-between.” And in the DD, I go into some discussion about how it must have felt for the Disciples during their “in-between” of when Jesus died on the cross and when they found His tomb empty three days later (which would actually be Monday morning, but for some reason we celebrate Easter on Sunday…). But what was Jesus doing in His in-between? The Apostles Creed believes Jesus descended into Hell to beat satan and defeat death, this belief is called the Harrowing of Hell. I believe this happened, how else could Jesus defeat satan. I wish I had artistic talent because I would create the visual I always get when thinking of this encounter. The devil stealing Jesus off the cross, His body broken and bloody. The devil thinks he has won, bringing His body to the realm of hell, all the true evil souls there celebrating. The Army of Angels in Heaven are suited up in full armor, led by the mighty Angel Gabriel, all ready to fight their final battle against Lucifer to bring Jesus home. But there is an unexpected guerrilla movement already in hell, all those who did not live sinless lives, who died before they ever had a chance to believe in Jesus. They’ve been watching and secretly planning. They will hit Lucifer’s legions from the rear flank when the devil is least expecting it. Distracted by the approaching Army of Angels, satan’s attention is taken away from Jesus as they prepare their defenses and ready their weapons. In a dark, lonely cell, Jesus awakes, breathes a new breath and stands. As the forces of Good and evil rush to meet in an epic clash, Jesus walks from His cell. With each step His strength and power grows. He appears in the center of the battle, wrapped in white robes, shining brighter than the most brilliant star. All stop in their tracks. Jesus walks up to Lucifer, the fallen angel, God’s most beloved angel that fell from grace due to pride and arrogance. Jesus walks up to this old friend (Jesus had been there since the beginning so He knew Lucifer before he tried to raise an army to overthrow God). Jesus and Lucifer are standing face-to-face, the devil breathing heavily, covered in dark armor, carrying his sword of darkness and shield. Jesus calm, glowing in light. Satan raises his sword to strike Jesus down in the spiritual world. Jesus sees this opportunity to make His move. Jesus closes the distance. Satan is wrapped in a warm embrace. He can’t deliver the blow he wants because Jesus has him in a strong hug. Jesus whispers, “I forgive you. I still love you. You have lost.” With that there’s an explosion of light that knocks the army of darkness on their backs. Lucifer rushes to sit up. Jesus is gone, the Army of Angels is gone, the hundreds of thousands that were imprisoned in hell are gone. Across the spiritual divide, satan sees Jesus on His white horse, riding on the clouds as He approaches the Golden Gates of Heaven. Just before entering, Jesus stops, His steed rears up on his mighty hind legs. Jesus looks back toward Lucifer and gives Him a fatherly nod. Jesus has spared the prince of darkness his existence, and Jesus knows that His battle with satan is not over, but Jesus has won the war. Just to prove His might, Jesus dismounts, and instead of riding into the Gates, He gives His steed a smack on the butt. The horse gallops into Heaven, and Jesus jumps, (it’s more like flying) back down to Earth. And that’s where we find Him Easter morning.
At least that’s how I see it. Happy Holy Saturday.
April 11-Holy Saturday
33“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
John 16:33 is my personal favorite verse. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples to give them hope for the tribulation they were soon to endure. It’s a verse that I think speaks to all mankind throughout every season. In this world, we will have great troubles. But fear not, because our Savior, our King, our Lord, has overcome this dreadful world.
Holy Saturday was the “inbetween.” Jesus’ family, friends, and followers had watched Him be nailed to a cross and die. They saw the phenomenon that happened at the hour Jesus breathed His last breath: an eclipse that blocked out the sun for three hours, the earthquake that split rocks and opened tombs, and the temple curtain that separated the inner chamber from the Holy of Holies was ripped from top-to-bottom. It was obvious to everyone on Good Friday that Jesus was more than just a prophet, but then came Saturday. Joseph of Arimathea had secured the body of Jesus and placed Him in his family tomb with the help of Nicodemus (we will revisit who Nicodemus is next week). A large stone was rolled in front of the tomb by the Roman guards to prevent anyone from stealing the body of Jesus. Jesus’ disciples were probably distraught, exhausted after the day’s events. They had most likely not slept since dozing off in the garden late into the night after the Last Supper. Could they sleep even now? For the last three years they had followed Jesus everywhere He led them. He was their beloved Rabbi, teacher, and who they thought was their savior and Messiah. How much doubt was in their hearts on Holy Saturday?
We are currently trapped in a different “inbetween.” We are in the waiting of Jesus to return and fulfill the final prophecies recorded by John in the Book of Revelation. And like the disciples on the first Holy Saturday, we are left wondering what to do next. Well, just like the day after Jesus was buried in the tomb, nothing has changed. Our faith and our mission, our great commission is still there. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do these things and no matter how long the in between may be, it’ll pass in the glorious blink of a grateful eye.
Reading plan: John 8
Deeper reading plan: 2 Kings 7, 8, 9
Prayer and meditation: Pray for the sick, pray for the lost and their loved ones. Pray for redemption for this lost world. Pray for the inbetween.
Fitness challenge: no fitness challenge today. Spend the day in prayer and in the Word.
Serve day: spend time today and this weekend serving Jesus in prayer and appreciation.