Holy Saturday Reflection – Easter Eve
This reflection is from Max Lucado, ”He chose the nails”, (pp119-122)
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about thirty-five kilograms. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was near by, they laid Jesus there.
John, as he writes these words in John 19:38-42, as he describes this tragedy, he will go on to say and show, in the remaining chapters of his gospel, that God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only we watch and wait. The tomb was full, and yet one day, there would be nothing but folded grave clothes remaining…
Maybe Joseph and Nicodemus could be described as reluctant in faith during Jesus life. Joseph had not agreed to Jesus’ condemnation (Luke 23:v51), Nicodemus had spoken with Jesus in depth (John 3:v1-21) and sought later to defend his ministry (John 7:v50-52).
But they were courageous at his death. They both came to serve Jesus. They came to bury him. Having had permission, they ascend the hill carrying the burial clothing. Pilate gave his permission. Joseph had given a tomb. Nicodemus brought the spices and linens. The amount of spices was such as only used typically for a king. The linens John mentions as yet another reminder of what has occurred – as long as there were no grave clothes, as long as there was no tomb, as long as there was no coroner, there was hope. But with the arrival of the hearse, any hope disappeared.
We do not know anything about Holy Saturday – beyond the actions of the priests and the words of Pilate and the military who arrive. When John left with Jesus mother to take care of her, (John 19:v25-27), he didn’t know that Friday’s tragedy would be Sunday’s triumph.
What did John do on the Saturday? All we know is that when Mary Magdalene came looking for him, she found him. When Jesus was laid in the tomb – John (like Peter) knew where it was (for he runs to that location – John 20:v3-9).
But John had not left the city after the Friday. Why? Was he waiting for resurrection? No. Surely the religious officials may look for him. But he stays. Does he stay that day because he is taking care of and consoling Mary, Jesus mother? Maybe he didn’t have anywhere to go. Maybe he had no energy, no direction. Or maybe he lingered in the city, not far from the tomb, because he loved Jesus?
To John Jesus was a friend and you don’t abandon a friend. You don’t abandon even when that friend is dead. John stayed close to Jesus. John had been close to Jesus in the Last Supper in the Upper Room, he had been close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he was at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. And he was a quick walk from the tomb at the burial.
Pause – a thought an idea to consider
When there is tragedy and struggle in our lives, when we are in John’s position, what do we do? When it is Saturday, how do we react? When we are somewhere between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph, what do we do? Do we leave God – or do we linger to be near him.
John chose to linger.
And because he lingered on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.
Pray – for yourself
To reflect, on a past tragedy or experience, where God brought good out of it. To remember the feelings and place you were at, inbetween the pain and the good that came later.
Witness – looking outward
Pray for people you know who are in that place of pain, for faith to come that good can come. Consider how you can support them, be alongside in this time.
Prayer for this day.
In the depths of our isolation
we cry to you, Lord God:
give light in our darkness
and bring us out of the prison of our despair;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.