Saturday of Holy Week

 

Quiet. That’s how you could describe the day after Jesus died. Today was the Sabbath. It was the day of rest for the people of the Old Testament. Every believer for 1,500 years stopped working on this day and was quieted. No one was allowed to bake bread, or stitch clothes, or tend the fields, or plan a project, etc. On the Sabbath day, the people of God were to engage only in those types of activities that enhance the joy, rest, and holiness of the day. They would spend time with family, go to the Temple for prayer, sing psalms, and most importantly read, study, and discuss the Scriptures.

How distracted those early followers of Jesus must have been. For the first time in three years, their Lord was not there. We know the importance Jesus placed on worship. Luke tells us, “As was his custom, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.”

Jesus would not be reading the scriptures to them that day. He would not be discussing the wonderful truths of God’s Word as their “hearts burned” within them.

No, that Sabbath was different. It was filled with uncertainty. Their hearts were mourning. Their stomachs were turned in knots, wondering if they would end up dead just like their former master.

In my household, we had the tradition of being quiet on this Holy Saturday. We weren’t allowed to watch TV or be rambunctious. Holy Saturday was a day of reflection and family. This was the day that our Lord’s body rested in the tomb. His work was finished. Our salvation complete. And so in a very small way we remembered the quietness of that day, 2000 years ago.

It’s interesting that the commandment dealing with the Sabbath is quite different than the others. The commandments are filled with “You shall..” and “You shall not…”. But the 3rd commandment says, “Remember…”. We are to remember the Sabbath day.

The fact that the Lord has to tell us to “remember” means that too often we forget. We forget that God is the almighty creator, the God of heaven and earth. He created the entire universe. He created all that is in it. He specially made mankind as the crown of his creation. We forget this as we get bogged down in our crazy schedules, and raising kids, and planning our futures. We forget, too often, that God is the supreme. That his love for us endures forever and that he shows this love to us as he daily provides for us.

We forget the sabbath rest of God also when we neglect his Word and Sacrament, when we fail to follow the commands of the true God. This was the entire reason that the God of the Sabbath sent his Son. Jesus redeemed us from our forgetting, from our neglecting. He rescued us from our sins by completely following those commands and then taking his perfect life to the cross, wherein his great love for us he took our sins and gave us his righteousness.

On this Holy Saturday, we don’t share the same confusion that the first disciples did. We know the outcome. We know that Jesus rose from the dead, just like he said he would. We rejoice that the victory over sin and death is now ours, for Scripture tells us, “We were therefore buried with him by this baptism into his death, so that just as he was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:4-5 EHV)

Take time today to remember all that the Lord has accomplished for you. In a quiet moment ponder upon this verse from Psalm 105, “He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded for a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8 EHV)