Holy Saturday

Gratitude Day 439

Sat., Apr. 11, 2020

Luke 23:34a: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

I’ve often wondered what the disciples did on that Saturday after Jesus’ death. The disciples celebrated the Passover meal with Jesus on the night before he died. A few of the disciples stood shocked at the foot of the cross and watched their fearless leader for the past three years die.

And then … what?

For most of the day, it was the Jewish day of Sabbath, which would have begun on Friday evening at sundown and continued until sundown on Saturday.

It appears that they hid. After Peter had been identified as one of his followers late on Thursday night, not once, but three times, none of them were crazy about being out in public. They chose to participate in a voluntary stay-in-place.

With no internet. No Netflix. No Facebook or Instagram. They didn’t get out the sidewalk chalk and create beautiful designs for others to see. They didn’t Facetime their family and let them know they were OK. Or have a family game night via ZOOM. They didn’t plan their Friday night fish curbside pick-up or sew masks for the neighborhood clinic or nursing home.

They did …

We’re not really sure. Maybe they replayed all the things that had happened with their teacher from the past three years; wondering how many times he dropped hints and they missed them. Or ignored them. Or didn’t take him seriously.

Possibly the examined every little detail from the Passover meal and wondered how they could have not understood what he was saying. His words still seemed very confusing.

More likely, they were so overcome with disbelieve and shock that the man who had hand-picked them to come into his inner circle was gone that they had no words to speak. And so, they hid. They sat. They cried. They wept.

A careful dissection of the four gospel accounts yields seven sayings that Jesus said from the cross in the last hours of his death. These sayings are often recalled and revisited during Lent and Holy Week because they share so much about who Jesus was, why he came to earth and what it means for us today. Here’s one of those sayings:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Most often, we associate Jesus saying them to the Roman guards who stood at command around the cross, carrying out their required duty of executing him. Guys who didn’t really have a choice about their role, other than this crucifixion happened to fall on the day they were assigned to this particular duty.

Yet, there was something different about how this man handled the last hours of his life. He didn’t ridicule them. Chastise them. Belittle them.

Instead, he prayed for them. He forgave them.

Whether they thought they needed it or not.

I see Jesus’ ring of forgiveness going much farther and deeper than just the Roman soldiers. Was not he also praying for his inner circle, his disciples, whether they were at the scene or not? Was not he praying for the Sanhedrin and the Jewish religious leaders who were so determined to make sure he died? Was he not praying for the Roman Governor Pilate, who really wanted nothing to do with Jesus’ death, to the point that he symbolically washed his hands after condemning him to death?

And was Jesus not also praying for you. For me. For all of humanity, who too often do not know or understand how what we do affects others? Ourselves? And God?

On this Holy Saturday, do you feel a little stuck? Stuck in the middle of a world crisis that often feels confusing and leaves us in disbelief? Stuck between making sure this pesky virus is not spread yet wanting to have some sense of normalcy in our lives? Stuck between how to slowly reopen a shuttered country that will appropriately balance human toll with trying to jumpstart a confused economy?

Maybe, we don’t feel all that different from the disciples, who huddled in the upper room, scattered with remnants from the Passover meal still present. Confused. Unsure. Maybe even a bit scared?

So, what do WE do on this day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? May I suggest that on this Holy Saturday, it’s best to just be. Be with our emotions. Be with our confusion. Be with our sadness. And hear Jesus’ words again:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Whether we know if we’re doing the right things or not, it’s OK. God is with us. Jesus forgives us. Dawn will come tomorrow and with it, hope.

For eternal and everlasting forgiveness, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Almighty God – while we often applaud the changes that have happened in the last 2,000 years, there are some things that remain very much the same. Our need for forgiveness. Grace. Hope. May we allow ourselves to tumble through these feelings today. Amen.

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