Updated: Sep 3, 2020
This Lenten season, our church has been spending each Sunday focusing on one day of Holy Week. I realized that I knew each day by heart: Spy Wednesday, when Judas decided to betray Jesus, Maundy Thursday when Jesus gave his followers the command to love one another. But what happened on Holy Saturday, when Jesus was still silent in the tomb? Nothing. This must have been the worst day of the week, if not for all of history.
The disciples are drowning in sorrow and grief with nothing but ruin looking back. This is a particularly heartbreaking for Judas and Peter. Both men have betrayed Jesus and are sitting in a mess of their own making, desperately needIng to do something, anything, to repent.
Judas tries to do the right thing. He gives the money back and confesses to betraying innocent blood. He looks for forgiveness and restitution from the religious authorities. But when regret is swallowing you whole, never trust someone who does not know Jesus. Finally, Judas has no other way to show God he is sorry but to hang himself. The one thing he cannot do is wait for God to step in and clean everything up. Why would God do that?
Peter has also sinned just as much as Judas and can't do anything about it. Scripture is silent about how Peter spent this Saturday. All of the gospels leave him crying bitterly alone on Friday night. We know that he only has 36 hours to go until Jesus finds him and sets him free. But Peter doesn't know this. In his mind, he has the rest of his life to live with the shame.
Sometimes, truth be told, we find ourselves in exactly the same spot. We've smeared our entire lives with selfish, cowardly sin, and a step in any direction, even if it's to show God we're sorry, will just make everything worse. Like a seagull coated in crude oil stumbling along the beach, we can't do anything but wait for God to step in and clean us. If, indeed, He is willing. Because truth be told, we really couldn't claim God is unfair if He chose not to clean us up this time. This mess is so big and so completely our fault, God would still be a fair and just God if He chose not to bring out the sponge. It's pushing the limits of mercy, even for the creator of the universe.
So we sit and wait and see if God will bail us out because our only step in faith is no step at all. Our only act of faith is to wait and do nothing. We have no more moves left on the chess board.
This is the heart of Easter Sunday. Jesus comes to us, dies and rises for us, gladly without any help on our part. Our only act of faith is to wait through silent Saturday until Easter Sunday.
May God grant us all the courage and patience to do nothing but wait. Jesus is coming for you and me. He is risen!