Summary: The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday rarely gets much attention. This sermon seeks to address Holy Saturday’s importance in an imaginative and emotive manner. It was first preached for a Good Friday service and is crafted for such an audience.
It’s Saturday – But Is It Finished?
Luke 23: 54
Throughout the season of Christ’s birth we celebrate Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Three months later we commemorate Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.
But what do we call the Saturday that falls between Good Friday and Easter? What is so significant about it? Does it have a special name?
Holy Saturday, the “Sabbath” as it is generically called in our text, seems to merely be a verbal bridge between Good Friday and Easter. The Biblical account devotes one lone verse to it! Not a single Gospel writer records a meaningful event that took place on Holy Saturday.
Yet, in many ways, the Saturday when Jesus was in the tomb should be a significant high point on the church agenda. Saturday must be more than a time when we say, "Yesterday He died and tomorrow He will rise again, but today not much is happening." It should be a red letter day.
"What’s the big deal about Holy Saturday?" some may wonder. For many -- if spring is in the air -- it is an opportunity to wash the car, mow the lawn, take a walk, or just rest in the hammock. Others will buy groceries for tomorrow’s Easter dinner -- or take their kids to an egg hunt.
What happened on Saturday between Good Friday and Easter? To the untrained eye, nothing at all!
If we were to go to the tomb outside of Jerusalem at the crack of dawn on Saturday we would observe little of major significance. The body of a recently crucified man would be on a slab in a tomb -- bloodied, discolored, rigid with rigor mortis. It would be a hideous sight (if we could see it). But we can’t because it is behind a sealed boulder that plugs the entrance.
But in heaven above and on earth beneath, far from our human senses, there is enough activity to change eternity. Demons are raging; some shrieking in fear. Satan has been stripped of all authority and power. Christ has opened paradise, ushering in both the thief who died by Him on the cross, and all those who had believed in the Coming Messiah through the ages.
The angels of heaven are rejoicing. The dead man’s Father no longer has His back turned toward His Son. There is a sense that a celebration is about to erupt at any moment! That is why Saturday is so important on the church calendar.
Yet back in Jerusalem, on the surface of Planet Earth, it is business as usual. If you were to stop the typical person and ask him or her about the excitement of Friday afternoon, inquire about the execution of yesterday, the individual would probably respond: "It is Saturday and it is finished!"
To them then, like to much of our world two thousand years later, "the fat lady has sung". The entire episode is "history". It is finished, kaput, over with, through, concluded, and buried.
If you don’t believe me, go ask that large man, the one who is sobbing, over there by that wall. His name is Simon Peter. A short time ago, in fact only 48 hours earlier, he never would have believed that it would come to this. Others will deny you, he had told his Master, but I never will! (Yet, Simon you did deny your Lord -- not once, but three times.)
Simon can still hear the rooster crowing. He can still see Jesus turning His bloodied face, looking at him over his shoulder, locking eyes, as though to say, "I told you. I told you. But you wouldn’t listen."
Simon Peter convulses with sobs of grief. But no tears come from his eyes any longer. He has no more tears to spill. He’s all cried out. He, the great rock upon which Christ had said he would build His Church, is a has-been. He’s all washed up. Yes, it is Saturday and it is finished, thinks Peter.
The rooster crows again in the backyard of Caiaphas, the high priest. He’s the same rooster Simon Peter heard last night; the same cock who rendered his shrill, lonely indictment. But the cock-a-doodle-doo of the rooster means something different to Caiaphas than it did to Simon Peter.
The rooster crows again in the backyard of Caiaphas, the high priest. He’s the same rooster Peter heard last night; the same cock who rendered his shrill, lonely indictment. But the cock-a-doodledoo of the rooster means something different to Caiaphas than to Simon Peter.
Finally, Caiaphas thinks as he rises from his bed, finally I rid myself of that charlatan. For three years he was a thorn in my side. For a thousand days I plotted and schemed to get rid of Him. And now, oh glorious Saturday morning, it is finished!