Today is Holy Saturday. In the Jewish calendar, it was a Sabbath and a high day--the feast of Passover had come, the Paschal Lamb had been slain. While Jews throughout the land celebrated their ancestors' deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth mourned. In John Mark's home, there was no rejoicing. Truly they ate the bread of affliction that day.
Before this week, I had never thought much about the range of emotions experienced by the disciples on this day, because I had always focused on the joy they must have experienced at seeing their Savior resurrected. But this time around I have realized that their joy on Sunday morning came only because of their great sorrow the previous Sabbath.
I imagine His mother Mary weeping with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, a sword piercing her soul. I imagine Simon the Zealot and Matthew the publican together fasting for grief and refusing to be comforted. I read of Judas hanging himself in anguish at the realization of what he had done. I can see Peter, who went out and wept bitterly.
I wonder if the disciples blamed themselves for His death. I wonder if they thought that if only they had been able to persuade Jesus to stay in Galilee for the Passover, He would still be alive. I bet they wished that they had brought swords to the garden to fight off the guards, preferring to die with Jesus rather that live without Him. I am sure they were confused and bewildered. They believed Jesus to be the Messiah. But the Messiah was supposed to redeem in triumph, not to perish in ignominy.
I wonder how they spent that Sabbath after the crucifixion of Christ, a day they did not yet know as the day before His resurrection. They didn't know that their sorrow would only last for a day. As that day dawned, they imagined that it would be the first day of many without their Master and friend.
I can imagine my own feelings if the Lord I love were to disappear from my life. The hole left would be enormous, the void beyond repair. My heart would be left empty, my soul left in darkness and confusion. I would not longer have the power to smile.
Resurrection Sunday will come, but sometimes it will come only after enduring a Sabbath of despair. Praise be to God, who gives us the promise even in our despair, that "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).