Saturday, April 3, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 7--Silent Saturday

Silence is hard for me. It's awkward. I'm one of those guys who always seeks to fill those empty moments with something...anything...often to my own regret. Silence in conversations with others in one thing...sensing nothing but silence from above is another thing altogether.

Imagine what the disciples were thinking on this Jewish Sabbath: "What were we thinking? What have we done with the past three years of our lives? What are we going to do now? Do I still remember how to fish?"

There are only a couple of things we know about this day. In Luke 23:56 we read that "they rested according to the commandment." Yeah right. I'm sure the actually DID "rest" according to the Law...that is, they did no work...but how much "rest of the heart" did they experience?

It's ironic, actually. The entire history of the Jewish Sabbath actually pointed to Easter Weekend...the whole point of God's people resting from actual work one day a week was a symbol of the Gospel Truth that Christ would do ALL the work required for us to be made right with God so that we could rest from our own works/efforts/performances that seek to merit God's acceptance, blessing, love and favor. How little the disciples understood that this Silent Saturday, this Sabbath between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday was the inauguration of the truest celebration of the Sabbath in all of history!

Another application of their obedience to the commandment to rest on this Sabbath has to do with how we normally react when things get out of control. So often in Scripture we are told to "WAIT" for the Lord; so often we are commanded to "stand still and watch the salvation of God." Yet is in the tightest spots that call for the greatest trust that we tend to rely upon human effort, human ingenuity and natural resources to get us out of the predicament. To rest and wait for the Lord and His supernatural resources is the hardest calling of the Christian...especially when the refrain of the world is "Don't just sit there, do something." I'm not lessening the call to human responsibility (trust me, I can be one of the most self-disciplined, self-reliant, self-sufficient people on the planet--I say that to my own shame, not to boast)...I'm simply emphasizing the call to rest in the Lord and wait for Him to work when things are tough.

The other element of Silent Saturday referenced in Scripture is found in Matthew 27:62-66--the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate and told him that while alive, Jesus had told His disciples repeatedly that He would rise from the dead after three days. So, they persuaded Pilate to make the tomb secure with a Roman seal and to have a guard of soldiers stationed at the tomb.

The world will try all they can to stop the truth of the Gospel from getting out...all to no avail. I'm often disappointed by how often I hear Christ-followers speaking to one another with such despair and panic in their voices over what is happening in the atheists are getting more organized or how Christians are having more liberties threatened...didn't Jesus say "the gates of hell will not prevail against the church?" "If God is for us who can be against us?" "We are more than conquerors." The world can no more slow down the progress of the gospel than a silly Roman seal and several Roman soldiers could prevent Christ from rising from the dead! Come on, Church, show some faith!

But let's not minimize how hard of a day this must have been for the disciples...confused...afraid...disillusioned...despairing... depressed...they must have felt a little "stuck." They were unsure what to do. They had met Jesus and He had changed everything...they couldn't go back. But He was gone. Dead. What would it mean to try to go forward...they were stuck...stuck in a moment.

We all get stuck from time to time...stuck in fear; stuck in despair; stuck in depression; stuck in confusion...Silent Saturday is a good day to pull out a U2 fave..."Stuck in a Moment"...and remember, as Bono sings, "that if you're way should falter, it's just a's just a's just a's just a moment...and this time shall pass..."

(by the way, this was U2 at Croke Park in Dublin on July 24, 2009 and, yep, I was at this very performance!)

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