As I write, it is Good Friday.

This morning we enjoyed a service of remembrance with our very little church family.  My baby led praise time which always gives me joy.  We celebrated communion together.  We lingered quite long afterward just enjoying conversation and coffee and the prospect of a quiet day.  Good Friday is precious.  It is also a celebration of something that is frankly, horrific.  Even as I search for a metaphor, I realize that it is THE metaphor – the metaphor for every pivotal moment in history when a single event changed everything, when every expectation was utterly decimated and something no one ever imagined was suddenly the new reality.  I don’t care who you were or what you were thinking on the original Good Friday, you did not see what was coming.  

If you were someone who followed Jesus, who was drawn to him, fascinated by him, who felt hopeful as you listened to him, that Friday evening some 2050 years ago was a nightmare.  You thought you were going to be rescued, whether your prison was the Roman occupation of your homeland, the sickness in your body or the torment of your soul, Jesus seemed to offer an answer, healing, freedom, hope.  But then he was arrested, stood trial in the middle of the night, pushed from courtroom to courtroom, punished before anyone could find a justification for it, and ultimately executed at the order of a ruler who repeatedly told Jesus’ accusers that there was no legal grounds for doing so.  On that first Good Friday, you were hopeless, confused, fearful, disillusioned.  Every expectation was crushed.  You were processing the death of the most perfect dream even as the life drained from his mutilated body, and the future was absolutely indiscernible.  All you felt certain of was that it could not be beautiful, not anymore.

Of course, if you were someone who opposed Jesus, you thought you were seeing the light at the end of a long and aggravating tunnel.  For three years or so, this teacher from nowhere had been wandering the countryside, teaching with a blasphemous degree of authority, interpreting the holy scriptures in ways to which you could not be reconciled, leading people into a life that seemed to disregard the laws and traditions that you held dear, and gaining influence at a breath-taking rate.  He was dangerous.  He had a frustrating knack for publicly leaving you speechless and embarrassed every time you tried to expose him for what he really was.   On that first Good Friday, you breathed a sigh of relief.  Finally, there was hope of putting him behind you.  Life could get back to what it had been before he came.  People would be ready to hear truth again and he, and his divisive teaching, would soon be forgotten.

I don’t think it is a new thought to anyone who has been a believer for more than a year or two, that celebrating Good Friday is a little disconcerting.  Yes, we know the resurrection is coming and that’s what makes Friday good.  Friday was good because Sunday couldn’t happen without it.  And so we celebrate, and I think it is appropriate to do so, the gruesome death of the source of all of our hope.  It’s confusing.  In my life in the church, I’m not sure I have ever known a family to have their big Easter dinner on Friday.  Yes. It was good, because it was necessary, but it doesn’t feel like a reason to throw a party.  

Because, what if Saturday never ended?  See, I have literally grown up in church.  Good Friday and Easter Sunday? They are the only reason my faith makes sense.  Take them away and Christianity is a meaningless social club that really adds nothing uniquely beautiful to this world.  It certainly offers no hope.  I have spent a lot of time over almost 50 years thinking about these two days.  I am grateful in a way I cannot express with words, and I will continue to be grateful through a length of time I can’t even imagine for these two days.  

But in the last few years I have found myself thinking more and more about Saturday.  What did Saturday day feel like?  I’m not talking about Jesus’ opposition.  They were feeling pretty well on Saturday.  The ugliness of Friday was over, and they could get on with celebrating Passover, one of the best celebrated holidays in their calendar.  Nobody wanted the messy display that yesterday had become but it was unavoidable.  After three tough years, the party could finally begin.  

No, I’m talking about those who had pinned their hopes on Jesus.  What was Saturday like?  How do you even get out of bed after a night like that?  The shock had worn off and what replaced it was excruciating.  You see, hope is an amazing gift.  It changes everything.  But when you lose that gift, when you lose hope, when it is torn from you and suddenly it’s completely out of reach, honestly you’d have been better off without it.  Every expectation, every dream of what life with Jesus was going to be like… it was just … over.  I feel like it’s kind of a miracle that some of Jesus’ most devoted followers didn’t just choose death.  I mean, I know Judas did, but his hope had already begun to fade.  He was beginning to understand that Jesus wasn’t going to meet his expectations, that Jesus agenda had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with people.  Judas sold his hope for thirty pieces of silver imagining he might find a little hope in a handful of precious coins, but he instantly saw the flaw in his own judgement.  He killed himself, yes.  His choice was tragic, absolutely.  But in the hours after Judas’ death, when Jesus gave up his spirit, when his body was lowered off the cross, wrapped lovingly but hastily and put in a tomb that wasn’t even his, how many others wondered if death was better than the hopelessness and fear that flooded in to fill the emptiness that Jesus’ presence left?   

Over the last few years, I have let myself “sit” in Saturday.  I don’t want to call it healthy, or useful. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it has been meaningful for me.  I’ll be honest, after nearly 50 years in church, I sometimes struggle to hold onto Good Friday – I’m not sure if I’m conveying what I’m trying to say here. Sometimes even as I sit in church and am reminded of the event and sing songs thanking God for it, I don’t feel the way I should be feeling when remembering an event like that.  There is a strange ambivalence.  I’m a bit sad, a bit ashamed maybe.  I even feel pity, definitely gratitude, perhaps a bit of smugness because I know how the story ends.  I’m so familiar with the story that I’m missing so much of it.  And frankly, I really can’t relate.  My life has had its share of heartbreak and disappointment, but I can’t find myself in Friday.  Not on that scale.  Friday was some kind of hideous fever-dream and I struggle to imagine watching everything I hoped for and what I had believe was the answer to every evil, every moment of suffering, be savagely beaten and killed.  I just don’t have a frame of reference for that. But there’s something about Saturday.  When I sit down inside Saturday, I can feel it, at least a little.  And, let me be clear, I don’t wallow for hours.  It teaches me nothing to spend Saturday aching with a sense of disillusionment and loss.  But when I sit there and let myself feel Saturday for a few minutes, I don’t know, I guess it just helps me feel Sunday better.  And as we know, Sunday was everything.  

1 thought on “Feeling Saturday on good friday

  1. Happy Easter. Jesus our amazing Lord died for the sins of the world and has risen victorious indeed and continues to show Himself loving, mighty and strong to humanity demonstrating His wisdom and power supernaturally continually as I personally have witnessed globally. To Christ Jesus alone be all the adoration, praise and glory. ~ Paul from

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