We celebrate Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and, of course, Easter Sunday. But what about Saturday? What must it have been like for Jesus’ followers on the day after he was crucified? The day before His resurrection?
Scripture doesn’t reveal much about this time, but we do know that some of the disciples had gathered together. Here’s how I imagine the scene.
Grief and fear covered the room like a cloak pulled tightly on a bitter cold day. Small groups of men and women huddled together in the room.
Mary sat in a corner, surrounded by her friends. Her face, blotched from crying all night, reflected the depth of her sorrow. The once-bright eyes that had shone with life and love were swollen and puffy from her deep pain.
She stared emptily at her sandals, then sighed deeply and raised her head, noticing the friends surrounding her, put their comforting arms around her, and sharing her grief.
“In God’s hands. He is in God’s hands now and out of pain.” The ladies surrounding her nodded in agreement. “Once the Sabbath is over,” she said, her hands clasped on her lap, “we must work. We will need to gather and prepare the spices for his…his…,” she stifled back her sobs and continued. “Spices for his body. We must get them ready. First thing in the morning, we must go and anoint my son’s body.”
The ladies huddled together in the corner of the large room, making their plans for the next day, the day we now call Easter Sunday.
In another part of the room, John sobbed openly. His brother James stood beside him, his large, weathered hand on his brother’s shoulder. “How could He be gone,” wailed John. “He was to rule, and we were to rule with him, beside him.”
Sobs bent him double. After a few moments, he straightened up and looked at his brother through his tear-reddened eyes. “I don’t understand. He spoke wisdom, He healed people.” He wiped the sleeve of his cloak across his nose. “He was to be our Messiah. And now He’s gone. Gone. All we dreamed of, gone.”
Several in the room looked furtively about them, startling at every sound. Fear controlled them. With any noise, they were sure that soldiers were coming. Their hearts raced, for they expected to be arrested and nailed to a cross. Trembling, they feared they would suffer the same horrible fate as their friend Jesus.
Over all the quiet talking and tears, Peter’s voice rang out. He smashed his fist on the wooden table. “Why?” he cried out. “Why did I deny him? I deserted him in his time of need!” He tore at his cloak in anguish. “If only I’d stood up for him. If only I’d fought for him! Perhaps he’d still be alive today.”
If only they had known what we know. If only they had listened to Jesus, who told them He would rise again. If only they had trusted him.
But aren’t we the same as Jesus’ early disciples? Don’t we worry and cry when things don’t go as we thought they would? We cry, we stay busy to forget our troubles, we long for what we thought would happen, we tremble in fear, we become angry at missed opportunities, we lack trust in our Savior.
He told us He would see to our every need. He promised us abundant life. He sent His spirit to live within us, to guide us and help us. Yet we worry. Yet we doubt. Yet, just like the disciples, we too are human.
Resurrected Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for understanding our fears and lack of faith. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Thank you for Easter Sunday.