As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:58-61)
Holy Saturday, the In-Between Place, “the day the Hope of the Nations lay dead in a grave.” Or so they thought. It’s a day of confusion, unanswered questions, silence, and disappointment.
It’s where I waited.
It’s where Mary Magdalene and Mary waited.
Perhaps, you too have waited here?
Matthew tells us that they followed the body of Jesus to the tomb and they sat opposite the tomb even as the stone was rolled into place. Finality, silence, grief, confusion, disappointment. Numb with pain and heartbreak.
“No one really talks about Holy Saturday, yet if I stop and think about it, it’s where most of us live most of our lives. Holy Saturday is the no man’s land between questions and answers, prayers uttered and miracles to come. It’s where I wait – with a peculiar mixture of faith and despair – whenever God is silent or life doesn’t make sense.”Pete Greig
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:55-56)
It is finished, or is it?
The women finally left the tomb, Luke tells us that they went home and prepared spices and perfumes to anoint the dead. They had accepted it, it was over. All their hopes were sealed in that tomb with the body of their beloved Lord.
I wonder if they were praying desperately for God to intervene and save Jesus. Did they wonder why God allowed this to happen? I wonder if they were filled with disappointment and their hearts broken as nails were being driven into Jesus’ hands and feet.
When God is silent.
When we feel as though He has failed us.
When God says no. When we utter “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Do you know this in-between place, my friend?
How do you handle the In-Between? How do you respond when God says no? Do you rush to fix things? To make sense of things?
Leap Frogging into Sunday
“I leapfrog Holy Saturday and rush to the resurrection? I race disconcerted, to make the meaning and find beauty when there is simply none yet.”Pete Greig
It’s hard sometimes to hear or remember what God has promised when we’re in the in-between places. Nothing seems to make sense.
Luke 24:8 has 5 simple but profound words: “Then they remembered his words.”
It wasn’t until after Jesus was raised and Mary Magdalene and Mary had the encounter with the angels that “they remembered”.
The account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus also echoes the lament, the confusion, and the brokenness of the in-between place.
And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. (Luke 24:19-21)
“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
But we hoped…
But I had hoped …
You had hoped . . .
It was only after their encounter with Jesus who opened the Scriptures to them that they understood all that happened. They saw that the in-between place was only temporary and they could utter with certainty to the other disciples, “It is true! The Lord has risen…”
There are so many examples of people who found themselves in an in-between place and it was an encounter with Jesus that changed everything. Mary and Martha? Jairus? The woman at the well? Zacchaeus? The thief on the cross?
An encounter with Jesus changes everything for us too. We find Him patient, loving, forgiving, and willing to lead us out of the in-between, onto the path He has laid out for us to walk in. Invite the Holy Spirit to open the Word of God to you. Let the Scripture burn in your heart as it did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, let it be your guide as you continue your journey on this side of heaven.
It is not the end. Sunday is coming.