Saturday, April 15, 2017
Holy Saturday: Descending To The Place Of Death
“Jesus was crucified, dead, and was buried. He descended to the place of death.”
In between the painful, gruesome darkness of Good Friday and the radiant brightness of Easter Morning lies Holy Saturday.
On that day, Jesus was buried behind a tomb. Some translations of the Apostle’s Creed describes it as Jesus “descending to a place of death;” a hell of sorts.
Jesus’ followers also descended into their own kind of hell. On Holy Saturday, they are hiding in justifiable fear that they might also be put to death by the Romans and the Religious Leaders. They are lost in overwhelming sorrow and confusion. Everything that they had based their life on was suddenly and traumatically obliterated.
Judas, who had been one of their fellow disciples - like a brother to them - had betrayed Jesus and then hung himself. Peter had his denials of the now-dead Jesus hanging over his head. All of them had failed to stay awake with Jesus in the garden when he was desperately afraid and distraught. All of them had fled or remained at a distance when Jesus was arrested instead of standing by him.
I’m sure all of us have had experiences like this - when injustice and cruelty seem to have free reign, when someone we’ve built our lives around is suddenly taken from us, when someone we trusted betrays us, or when we’ve done something to someone we loved which is so hurtful that it feels like our guilt will never go away.
This is why Holy Saturday is a key component of the Holy Weekend. It can be tempting for us to skip right to the good news of Easter Morning. However, it’s only after the pain of Good Friday and the grief of Holy Saturday that the revolutionary, universe-changing event that is Easter Morning is possible.
Likewise, when we face the reality of the inevitable pain and grief our lives - and determine to lean into them instead of trying to avoid them - our view of the world has the potential to be transformed. We can begin to see that life itself is grace. We can begin to see God in all things once we have faced our darkness and discovered light in it.