Today on this Easter Saturday we as Christians find ourselves caught between Good Friday, which we now celebrate as that great and glorious day when our redemption was secured in and by the death of Messiah Jesus, and Easter Sunday, which we celebrate as that great and glorious day when death itself was defeated in the resurrection of Jesus.
But the disciples on their Saturday before the first Easter looked back to Friday as the day their world came crashing to an end, and ahead to Sunday as only another day to adjust to life with Jesus gone.
Easter Saturday was a very dark and lonely and hopeless day almost 2000 years ago for the disciples. They were shaken with grief, scared for their own lives, humiliated, bearing the burden and excruciating disappointment of dashed hopes. It seemed they had been wrong about Jesus. They thought he would bring in the kingdom. They thought he would restore Israel’s fortunes. OK, Jesus had said that he would be taken, that he would suffer, that he would die as a ransom for many, but these words had never sunk in, had never quite broken through the wrong assumptions of the disciples. And now it was a dark Saturday. Jesus was gone.
Given this state of mind, and despite all Jesus had said, when the news broke on the morning of the first day of the week that Jesus was alive, it couldn’t have been more unexpected. Or electrifying…Or transforming...
But, back to Dark Saturday...
Sometimes we feel a little like the disciples on that Dark Saturday. Our most cherished hopes are crushed, and the detritus of our dreams are strewn around us as inescapable reminders of our frailty and failure. Living in the present we cannot yet see through to tomorrow or the day after that, and when we try to project forward we may only be able to imagine a cruel extension of the present darkness.
It is hard for us, 2000 years after the first Easter, to imagine just how dark that Dark Saturday was for the disciples and many other friends and followers of Jesus.
And thus, not having walked through these dark places with the disciples, it is also very hard for us to wrap our minds around the earth shattering nature of what came about the following morning, when hopelessness was replaced by hope, sadness by joy, darkness by light, confusion by clarity.
Sometimes we have to sit in the darkness to appreciate the light, or know hopelessness in order to understand hope, or feel utter gloom before we can know real joy.
We are taught as Christians to identify with the sufferings of Jesus. On this Dark Saturday I am inclined to remember the sufferings of the disciples. Remembering that, and relating to it, it makes the events of Easter morning more unexpectedly wonderful.