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May 9, 2021 | Chris Baselice
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Easter Day Seven: An Unimaginable Saturday
By Danny Saavedra
“It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So 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 15:42–47 (NIV)
“Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”—Luke 23:56 (NIV)
“I can’t believe it!”
“I never thought I’d live to see the day!”
“I just never imagined something like this was possible!”
People make these types of statements when they witness the unimaginable or unthinkable. Sometimes, these events are cause for celebration, like the lifelong Cubs fan witnessing his team finally break the “curse” and win the World Series after 108 years. Other times, the events surrounding these statements are tragic. Much of what took place in 2020 likely elicited this response from people.
It’s safe to assume the disciples couldn’t have imagined a scenario where their Master—who healed the blind, walked on water, calmed the storms, and raised people from the dead—would be killed. After everything they’d seen, they likely never thought they’d live to see this day. And even though Jesus told them repeatedly that He’d be delivered into the hands of the religious leaders and would be killed, they still seemed to brush His words off. Why? Because they believed He was the Messiah.
After they had just witnessed Jesus riding into Jerusalem as the conquering hero on the donkey as was foretold, they were most certainly riding the high of the people’s adoration. If they weren’t sure before, they definitely were then. In their limited view of God’s Word, through the lens of lifetimes of oppression and captivity, they believed the Messiah would establish an eternal physical kingdom. But the thing about physical kingdoms is you have to be alive to rule them. They believed they had arrived in Jerusalem with Jesus to see Him free His people from their Roman captors, to claim the throne of David, and establish an everlasting kingdom for Israel.
But then, the unimaginable happened. A few hours after celebrating the Passover together, Jesus was betrayed by one of them, arrested, mocked, beaten, put on trial, taken before Pilate, brutally scourged, sentenced to be crucified, forced to carry His (our) cross, and nailed to a cross. Then, a few hours later, Jesus said, “It is finished!” and “gave up His spirit” (John 19:30 NKJV). He died. It was over . . . dreams dashed, hope killed, faith crushed.
Because the Sabbath was upon them, Jesus had to be buried immediately afterwards. And though He was laid in a nice tomb—a tomb that had never been used (Luke 23:50–54)—Jesus wasn’t given a proper burial. The disciples couldn’t even hold a funeral for Jesus the next day because it was the Sabbath. They couldn’t say goodbye to their teacher and best friend.
So, what do you imagine they did on that darkest of Saturdays? Did they sit together and talk about what He meant to them? Perhaps reminisce on how great He was? It’s possible. But after all they’d seen and gone through, it’s more likely they simply sat in silence much the same way that Job and his friends did (Job 2:11–13), distraught, inconsolable, and wallowing in hopelessness, despair, confusion, and anger. I also imagine they were pretty fearful that, as Jesus’ associates, they were going to be next.
In my mind, this Sabbath day was like the eye of a hurricane for them with devastation at their backs and devastation awaiting them on the other side. No doubt, it had to be the darkest and most empty day of their lives and truly the darkest and most empty day in the history of the world—an entire day where it seemed grace, truth, peace, hope, and love were buried.
But what was waiting for them on the other side of Saturday wasn’t devastation or destruction. It was victory, redemption, restoration, true freedom, and the establishment of a kingdom that cannot be shaken! The unimaginable was about to take center stage, as Jesus’ physical death was not the end of His story. You see, death could not hold Him, and the very next morning, the Messiah would rise again, conquering death and breaking the shackles of sin.
So, tomorrow morning, as you rise up out of your bed, do so with the knowledge that this is a day of victory and celebration, because Christ Jesus is alive! And because Jesus is alive, we, too, are now made alive in Him!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.