By Rev. Jeff Lackie On Apr 11 2020
April 11 (Holy Saturday)
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” 64Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ 65Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Jesus words resonate beyond his disciples. “Sir, we remember what that imposter said…” Jesus’ enemies have been paying attention, and they are afraid.
What if this ‘imposter’ wasn’t an imposter after all? What happens if the story takes a turn, and all our certainties are undermined? What happens then…?
Pilate’s response is revealing. “You have a guard of soldiers, go make it secure as you can.” Pilate has had enough of this Jesus business. He has a province to run. He leaves the priests to mind their own anxieties - with their own guard of soldiers. Pilate has well and truly ‘washed his hands’ of the whole thing.
The guard is set - and the waiting begins. But how long would they wait? Three days is the benchmark. That is the time frame that Jesus set for this drama to play out. In three days, the watch would be dismissed, because the deception would be over and the priests’ worldview would be affirmed…and that’s all they really wanted.
Our own season of waiting has been riddled with uncertainty. I have encountered Holy seasons with interruptions and weather-related cancellations in the past. It is awkward when the momentum of Lent is upset by snow and ice and wind, but in the end, rhythms are restored and al is well. But here we wait for heaven knows how long. And we wait in an Holy season, full of landmark, ritual events that define us as followers of Jesus. Our worldview is in tatters, and our anxiety is high and we wait. We wait on this Holy Saturday for a miracle - for the tomb to be empty and our world to be restored. But what will that restoration look like?
Tomorrow we will celebrate. The calendar tells us (in the Western Church, at least) that tomorrow is the day of jubilee - the day of resurrection. But our isolation will continue - our anxiety about so many things will remain. What does restoration look like?
That is a question with no answer right now. But we would do well to remember that the empty tomb and all that it means to us is a gift of God that has far reaching and mysterious implications. The freedom that comes from Christ’s victory over death includes some human anxiety over what to do with that kind of freedom.
Life abundant is not supposed to be ‘life as we’ve always known it.’
May we be blessed in our waiting, this day, and in all the days to come.
Let us pray:
Patient and gracious God
This is the day of waiting - the longest day.
Our days are already blurred together - unidentifiable, one from another -
and the waiting is heavy on us.
Wait with us. Watch for us. Help us to learn what it means
to be people who are ‘Holy, uncertain, and unafraid.’
Each tomorrow is a new version of the same thing.
But TOMORROW will be different.
In that, we trust you completely.