Can you imagine what it was like to watch from a distance as the one in whom you put all your hope was stripped, scourged, and hung on a cross to die a slow, excruciating death? Can you imagine how it felt to witness his lungs rise to desperately catch his last breath, to watch all your dreams of victory, salvation, and the end of oppression die right before you?
I imagine that Saturday after Good Friday was a long one for the followers of Christ. I imagine they had a myriad of questions. What just happened? What do we do now? Was there any point to the last three years? They either never understood Jesus’ promise to rise again or they forgot it. Scripture tells us plainly that they believed he was absolutely dead. They wept, they mourned, they buried him, and they arrived early on Sunday to anoint his dead body with spices.
I am convinced no one understood shattered hope better than the disciples on that Saturday. Because when Jesus appeared to them in the flesh, they still hesitated to believe. They hesitated to have their hopes once again dashed against the pain of death.
In Luke 24:13-35, we see two of the disciples still living in the darkness of that Saturday, even though Jesus had already risen from the dead. As they were walking and discussing the events of Jesus’ death, Jesus began walking beside them, but they did not recognize him. As the disciples tell this “stranger” what happened they lament, “but we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
“But we had hoped”-there is so much pain oozing from that phrase. The searing pain of shattered hope, disappointment, unmet expectations, and doubt. Every part of them was wrapped up in this one hope and then the cross happened. Circumstances did not meet their expectations. They heard that Jesus had rose from the dead, but because they had not seen him, they doubted this was true. All the while he was walking right beside them and they did not see him.
But, in the space between Good Friday and the Resurrection, a mighty and invisible work was taking place. Jesus was in the process of defeating death and our greatest enemy. He was experiencing literal hell, so that we would never have to. And he was preparing to overcome it, so that hell, and our enemy, and the grossness of our own sin would never again have power over us. All of their hopes were coming true in the in-between, but they didn’t know it yet.
We often dismiss the Saturday in between Good Friday and Easter as irrelevant, but I believe it is the most relevant day of Holy Week for Christians. Why? Because that's the space we live in now- the Silent Saturday, the dark night before Jesus emerges victoriously. We are clinging to His promise that He will come again, waiting in the in between.
Don’t lose hope because he is at work in the in-between, just as he always has been.
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