They had so much hope and anticipation, but now it was all gone. Jesus rode into a week ago Jerusalem, and the crowds shouted “Hosanna!” There was an expectation of victory, and everything was going right. Until… it all went wrong. Jesus was tried, condemned, tortured, and executed. And they watched it happen. We call it Good Friday, but for those first followers of Jesus, it was the worst day of their lives. Imagine Peter’s grief, shame, and guilt after denying he knew Jesus. Imagine Matthew’s disappointment after having committed his life to Jesus. Imagine Mary’s despair after having raised Jesus, seeing Him perform miracles, only to watch Him be beaten, mocked, and murdered. That Saturday was full of indescribable, overwhelming grief.
The early church recognized the significance of this day and began to call it Holy Saturday. A day marked by the confusing in-between. Most of our lives are lived in that place. We spend a lot of time on Saturday, not Sunday. Jesus has died and while he is risen, we experience that reality in part. Not in full. One day he will return to set things right and make them new, but for now, we are in the confusing in-between on Saturday. Maybe you were laid off suddenly while the bills keep coming, maybe you’re a student rocked by a depression you just can’t shake, maybe you’re a young adult bouncing from job to job feeling like you don’t quite fit, maybe you’re taking care of your elderly family members while fighting to push through your own health issues.
Most of our lives are lived on Saturday. And this lasts longer than just a day. Maybe it’s a week, month, year, or lifetime.
What does resurrection hope look like on Saturday?
How does the reality of Jesus’s resurrection help us navigate the messiness of living in a broken world?
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back? Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake, I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. ”When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.
Jesus weeps because he is upset about the way death and brokenness in the world hurt the people He loves. God is compassionate. This word is used to describe Jesus more than any other adjective in the Gospel. He cares so deeply for you.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
When did God start working in this story? It wasn’t when Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out. It wasn’t when Jesus prayed. It was in verse 1. From the moment Lazarus was sick, a plan was set in motion to bring glory to God and blessing to this family.
In your Saturday experience, you can know that God is working to bring glory out of grief in His way and His timing. Even if He feels so far away, He is working.
What do we do on Holy Saturday while Jesus is weeping and working?
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”