8 Apr 2023

Time ‘In Between’ Time: Holy Saturday Meditation

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: A Gathered People, Christian hope, Easter, Faith, Grace, Holding On, Jesus, Lord's Supper, Salvation, Spiritual Disciplines, Worship


Today is called “Holy Saturday” in most Christian traditions. It is the day between between death and resurrection. It comes before Resurrection Day, commonly called “Easter” in English speaking Christianity (it is called Pascha, not Easter, in most of the world) we have the Time in Between Time. It is a day to reflect, remember, ruminate.

We remember Jesus abandoned by his family. James, Jude, the sisters of Jesus were nowhere to be found. The historical fact that a stranger, not a family member, claimed Jesus’s body shows that they had disowned him for the shame they believed he had brought upon the family (i.e. the shame attached to the crucifixion and the thought that being hung on a cross was a sign of divine curse). Though Jesus’s family was certainly in Jerusalem during Passover/Unleavened Bread and could not have not known what was going on, after all Mary did not teleport from Nazareth to Golgotha, they simply are not in the scene.

Only Mary even showed up. The power of a Mother’s love overcomes even shame in an “honor-shame” society. At the cross she joins “Rachel weeping for her children” (Mt 2.18) and a “sword pierced [her] soul” (Lk 2.35). No doubt she was a confused and perhaps as angry with God as she recalled the the promises given at his birth, this is absolutely not what what she dreamed nor imagined.

Peter did not know.

John did not know.

Paul was nowhere to be found.

James, Jude, the Sisters did not know.

Not even Mary, Jesus’s mother, knew.

Only the women even knew where Jesus had been placed in the earth!

I think it is important to meditate upon the crushed hopes, the shattering of their lives and the fear that surely took hold of these disciples on that Saturday/Sabbath, in that Time in Between Time.

It appeared as if – as if – Death was in fact supreme on this day, this Time In Between Time.

On that Saturday – Time In Between Time – minds were trying to grasp what had happened the space of a week: Jesus was welcomed by the Passover Pilgrims by the thousands only to be murdered shamefully by the powerful priesthood and made an example out of by the Romans of what happens to Messianic pretenders.

The Time in Between Time was a time of sheer terror and of guilt.

Why did some African pilgrim step up to carry the cross and not one of ourselves who claimed to follow him?

Why did we run away?

Why did we even deny we knew him?

Will the Romans round us up and kill us like they did others who claimed to be King?

How could we have been so wrong?

Then there was that mysterious way in which Jesus died. Yes he prayed Psalm 22 (“my God my God, why have you forsaken me”). But as he died, he was praising the Lord with Psalm 31 on his lips. How utterly strange (make sure you read Psalm 31).

Jesus’s death was not an illusion. It was a gruesome, horrific, shameful, reality. The historical reality of the death and burial of the dead body of Jesus is non-negotiable in the creed quoted by Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15.3-4). The New Testament does not simply insist that Jesus died. It proclaims that Christ, the King, was Crucified. Death reigned supreme in the old creation. And as with Adam of old, Death claimed the Son of Man, now buried in the heart of the earth from which humanity came to rest in death. To be, seemingly, no more.

This Shabbat, this “Saturday,” this Time In Between Time seemed like the ultimate exclamation point for the vandalism of God’s Creation. Death claims the victory.

What are these disciples doing on this day? I have suggested yesterday, they lamented with the Psalms perhaps the very ones Jesus prayed on the cross, Psalms 22 and 31. Spend time with them today.

But we live “post-Pascha/Easter.” We anticipate what they could not imagine. But the wisdom of faith insists that we do not forget this Time In Between Time. To do so both softens the offense of the crucified king thereby lessening the stunning news of Easter/Pascha morning. So down through the centuries Christians have gathered on this Saturday to meditate the day in between death and resurrection, with the Scriptures. So millions of disciples, for many centuries, have heard read the following passages on this day.

Genesis 1.1-2.2. Jesus, the “Son of Man,” is representative of every human. God’s original creation was very good and was vandalized by Adam’s rebellion. The death of Jesus atones for the sin that every human has brought into God’s good creation.

Exodus 14.1-31. Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb. His death is “according to the Scriptures.” A phrase that means “in line with” not only “predicted by.” The Gospel flows out of the rivers of the Hebrew Bible. He leads us out of the slavery to sin, death and into freedom of life.

Isaiah 55.1-11. Jesus, the Son of David, invites us to come and feast. To buy – without money! God’s thoughts of mercy rather than punishment turn human thought on its head (vv. 6-8). We are invited to seek the Lord himself.

Romans 6.1-11. We have been set free, liberated, led in an Exodus out of Sin and Death. How can we “return to Egypt,” so to speak? On this Saturday we can meditate on what it means to be set free and also to have fellowship with our Passover Lamb in the watery grave. It is through death we have been set free from death. So Paul says we are “united,” that is we have “koinonia” – fellowship – with our Messianic King on this Saturday “in death.” But as Israel was led out of Egypt to a new life (they were literally dying in Egypt, the kingdom of death) so we by the power of God we are pulled out of that death into life. We are raised with him to a new life in anticipation of the resurrection of our body (Romans 6.1-11; 8.11 & 23).

Psalm 31. I have written on Psalm 31 at length elsewhere but we conclude with this remember the voice of Jesus “yesterday.” The Lord God will have mercy on him and through him, us.

I hope you will take the time to read and reflect on these passages specifically in light of the death of Jesus. Imagine reading them in the Time in Between Time.

Jesus pulls us into the Story of God with Creation and Israel. We are invited to share in that story of new life as well.

And we too live between Friday and Sunday. We live our lives as Christians, in a sense, between death and resurrection. We live in the Time between Time. We are “Saturday” Christians with Psalm 31 on our lips expressing the same amazing faith Jesus did in the Father of Love.

Grab a Bible. Find the texts. Read them in light of this day and in hope. Reflect with Mary, Martha, Peter, John. And the millions of saints down through the millennia who have spent time in the Time In Between Time.


See Also:

Psalms & The Cross: Jesus’s Faith on the Ragged Edge: Psalm 31, Holy Saturday & “Seeing” the Prayer of the Crucified One

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