April 16 I Saturday
1 Samuel 30-31
“Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where He was laid.” —Mark 15:46-47
Many of us tend to rush from the darkness of Good Friday to the joyful brightness of Easter Sunday, completely forgetting about Holy Saturday. Yet, God was intentional with having a day between Jesus’s crucifixion and His resurrection. Have we ever considered why a sovereign God would arrange things so that Jesus would die on a Friday and be raised on a Sunday? The day in between was the Jewish Sabbath, which began sundown on Friday and went until sundown on Saturday. What could be done during this time? Absolutely nothing.
The events between the first Good Friday and Holy Saturday are recorded in Mark 15:40-47. Mark begins with the story of the women, moves to the story of Joseph of Arimathea and back to the story of the women. This sandwiching of two stories is a characteristic of Mark’s writing; he does it to demonstrate that the two stories are intertwined and how one of them illuminates our understanding of the other. In this case, the common link was the massive cylindrical slab of concrete that sealed the entrance of Jesus’s tomb—the stone. It represented the gigantic period, a full stop, the end of the story of Jesus, the sealing and the death of their hopes.
Joseph could not do anything to begin his new journey of maybe rekindling hope once again. The women could do nothing to get ready for their last act of loving service to Jesus and get the spices because they could not work on the Sabbath. The stone represented an obstacle to them as they wondered, “Who is going to move the stone for us?” Our own stones may not be literal, but they do almost exactly the same thing as the literal stone did for Joseph and for the women. It represented the end of hope, crushing limitations on their horizon.
We could all relate to this with seemingly endless lockdowns and the ever-changing government guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us feel as if we are in a standstill as the many plans that we had were cancelled or put on hold. We may wonder to ourselves: “When will this all end so that I can get back to some semblance of ‘normal’?”
Like Holy Saturday, God may be calling us to intentional stillness. If we truly believe what the Psalmist proclaims, that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…” we can fully rest in the command that He gave at the end of the Psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:1, 10).
Prayer: Dear Sovereign God, no matter what is happening in the world around me, You are God and You are in control. Still my heart before You and strengthen my trust in You. Thank You, Lord.