It’s Saturday, but Sunday is coming…

crossIt’s Easter Eve, but it feels wrong referring to it like that. “Eve” usually denotes a sort of celebration and anticipation on the evening before some grand event.

The Saturday before the first Easter was a time of great sadness. All that had been anticipated seemed like a silly pipe dream because Jesus was dead. The man who the disciples trusted, the man who promised them so much, died just the same as the two common criminals beside him.

His body gave out as theirs did. The same color of blood – the color of the criminals’ blood – ran from his wounds.

His heart burst from the torture. Literally, as evidenced by the water that poured from the puncture wound, and figuratively, too.

A friend betrayed him.

Another friend denied him three times.

He watched his mother fall apart at the foot of the cross that held him.

The humanity he came to save – those he loved more than you or I can fathom – turned against him.

On the night before his death he asked his disciples – his friends – to stay awake and pray with him. They fell asleep, leaving Jesus alone in the Garden of Gethsemane to cry blood and tears, terrified of what was to come.

Yet, he still chose to go through with it, and he faced the greatest heart-break of all: total separation from God. You and I have never experienced separation like that. Oh, we may turn away now and again, but God doesn’t leave us. Never. Ever. Ever.

But God left Jesus while he hung on the cross. He turned his back on his son, so that we would never know that separation as long as we accept the gift of his sacrifice.

Jesus went through with it, and we know he had a choice because of his prayer in the Garden. He chose to save mankind. Even through all the heartache we had caused.

So Saturday night was not a time of celebration. The resurrection was not anticipated. Unlike the baby growing in Mary’s belly, there were no outward signs, and the teachings of Jesus’ ministry weren’t completely understood until after the resurrection.

The disciples weren’t thinking about what Jesus had said about going away so the Holy Spirit could come. They didn’t recall that he said he had come to serve them, to suffer and die for them. Their hopes had been crushed, their dreams shattered. They were terrified that they would be next, and maybe they even chastised themselves for following this man who ended up dead. Perhaps the disciples felt sorry for themselves because this hope had been taken away from them, as so many other things had been taken away. What could they believe in now?

Tonight is Saturday, and it just so happens that my metaphorical awakening (or dejection, depending on how you look at it) occurs on this literal Saturday before Easter. Many of my dreams are unfulfilled after several years of trying. I look at the insurmountable task ahead of me – this monumental goal of being more than just a carbon-based lifeform using up oxygen, to do something that matters – and I wonder why I bother when all the doors keep slamming in my face. I wonder what there is to believe in when all else has failed me.

And then I’m reminded of how the disciples felt on their Saturday. They forgot everything Jesus had told them while he was alive. All the parables, the teachings, the promises…all of these things flittered away into the darkness when all they could see was his body hanging on that cross.

Are your dreams hanging lifeless on a cross? Are you watching your hopes fade, questioning why you ever believed in the first place?

Or are you trusting in the promises, believing by faith even when the evidence brands you a fool?

It’s only Saturday. Your story isn’t over yet. God is in the resurrection business, and while the work that Jesus did on the cross is finished, God never stops working in our lives.

While the disciples and many others were mourning Jesus in the quiet of their homes that Saturday, God was working. He was battling evil on mankind’s behalf, declaring victory over sin and getting ready to glorify his son.

He’s working on your behalf, too. Tonight. Right this very minute. Even (or especially!) in the quiet. Your resurrection might not be what you are anticipating (Jesus certainly wasn’t what the Jews expected), but in this world of heartache and disappointment I have learned to trust in God’s promises.

Even on Saturday, because I believe – I know – that Sunday is coming.

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7 thoughts on “It’s Saturday, but Sunday is coming…

  1. He watched his mother fall apart at the foot of the cross that held him.

    I don’t remember that part of Scripture.

    …and he faced the greatest heart-break of all: total separation from God.

    Don’t remember that one either. I know he quoted the Psalm about being forsaken, but that was a prophetic fulfillment. And anyway the psalmist doesn’t say he was totally separated from God. Plus it’s hard to imagine God Himself being totally separated from Himself.

    • Perhaps I took a bit of literary freedom on that first part. You’re right, scripture does not specifically state what Mary was feeling. But John 19:26-27 tells us: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.'” From this we know she was there, and Jesus used some of his last words as a human on earth to make sure his mother was cared for. What mother wouldn’t fall apart as she watched her son die a horrific death?

      As for the second part of your comment, you are incorrect. Scripture does tell us that Jesus was separated from God on the cross and that is why he suffered so greatly in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. The Bible tells us he faced every temptation, but he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). However, on the cross he carried the burden of every sin of every man in order to take on the punishment that mankind deserves (2 Corinthians 5:21) and since God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Habbakkuk 1:13), the Son was separated from the Father for the first time in eternity. He had to be. That is the whole purpose of the sacrifice, not just a bit of pain on earth and then all is well. God goes beyond the finite and temporal. The redemption has eternal significance. The ultimate form of human suffering is the total separation from God because of man’s rejection of him through sin. THAT is what we are saved from, so that is what Jesus had to experience.

      Jesus quoted the Psalm because that was what happened on the cross. A fulfillment of the prophecy, yes. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy, not for the sake of reciting the right words, but because those were the actual circumstances. Psalm 22 is about a man calling out for God to save him, but God does not answer. The psalmist feels abandoned by the father in whom he put all trust. The fact that God did in fact turn from his son in order to spare mankind that same separation is what makes this story of sacrifice and redemption such a wonderful and miraculous marvel.

  2. Pingback: Your One Thing | On the Road to Damascus

  3. *sigh* I forgot how much I missed reading your blogs (I thought I had subscribed to them, but I haven’t seen them in my inbox for a long time. :()

    I confess, there’s more times than not that I flinch when I hear people talk about God. Part of it stems from my own experiences, I’m sure. But then I read one of your entries and they always come with a sense of peace. Do you know the one I’m talking about? The kind that’s hard to describe, but it’s hard to feel alone when it’s there and you sense God is there.

    I think it’s because your words are yours. They aren’t phrases picked up from the pulpit and reused because they feel and sound good. You understand the things you write. You’ve thought about these words and you mean what you say. It’s real faith. I love that.

    Keep writing, Holly! You’re making a difference. 🙂

    • Aw, you are such a sweetie! I actually closed down my other blog and re-opened it here after several months away. It’s my fresh start. Life got crazy for a while, but I missed blogging and I’m so glad to be back.

      Thank you so much for the kind words. My faith has wavered a lot over the years. The stuff I write here is a reflection of how much I have messed up, and what I’ve learned along the way. And through it all I know that God still loves me. That concept astounds me daily! And yes, I know that sense of peace you are talking about. I agree, it is hard to describe because you just sort of feel it. You know it’s there when it’s there. And that’s what it is all about. God couldn’t care less about whether or not you can recite the right words or whether you know when to kneel. We, people, get so bogged down with all that and I think it keeps a lot of people away from God. He just wants you to let him love you 🙂

      By the way, I am so proud of you for making your dreams come true. You are an inspiration!

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