The Silence of Saturday (The Day Before Easter) in Christianity
The First Silent Saturday
For us moderns, the Saturday before Easter is typically spent watching our favorite sporting events, attending sales at the mall, and spending quality time with family. After the crucifixion, however, the first of Christ's followers spent the day prior to His resurrection in a very different manner. They had left everything to follow Christ and had been with Him for the past three years, but as Jesus' final week unfolded before them, they watched their hopes and dreams unravel. They were left alone with nothing but doubt, disillusionment, and the reality of a dead king.
Jesus' Last Week
How could this happen? On Sunday, the first day of Passover week, things started so gloriously. Jesus was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem like a king. Thousands of people packed the streets and flooded the marketplace. Finally, things were looking up, and the disciples were getting the attention they had longed for.
On Monday, however, things began to change again. The crowds were still large, and Jesus was never more on point with His teachings, but things began to change. He began storming into rooms and flinging tables as doves flew about and traders scampered and scattered. The mood had changed, and Monday became Tuesday.
Tuesday of Christ’s final week was a day of controversy and confrontation. Jesus’ authority was questioned. And at the end of the questioning, He gave his last sermon to the Pharisees. Jesus’ last words to the Pharisees were not about love or compassion. They were about phony faith and hollow hearts. It was an in-your-face slam dunk against their legalistic leadership. Six times Jesus called them hypocrites and five times He called them blind. From a PR perspective, Tuesday did not go well for Jesus and His followers.
There were no events recorded for Wednesday in the ancient text. On Thursday, Jesus and His followers enjoyed the Passover supper together. The eleven heard His final discourse to them before he was arrested in Gethsemane. On Friday, Christ endured beatings, floggings, six unjust trials, and a horrific crucifixion ending in His death and burial.
The Silence of Saturday
Sandwiched between the horror of crucifixion and the glory of resurrection—between the sorrow of Friday and the celebration of Sunday—was “the silence of Saturday.” This was a day when the scripture and even the angels were silent. For those first of Christ's followers, it was an extremely difficult time. They might have felt that even God was silent—that He was either not concerned with their pain and struggle or that He was unable to do anything about it.
It was Saturday, and those first followers of Christ found themselves in the pseudo-safety of the upper room. As oil lamps threw flickering ghosts against the walls, and the disciples were left alone with their own thoughts and doubts. As they reflected on all the activities of the past week, their minds likely drifted back to the Passover meal they had shared with Jesus in the very room where they now hid. They knew the meaning of the roasted lamb, the unleavened bread, the cups of wine, the bitter herbs, and the saltwater, but they could not have realized that the embodiment of all of those Passover symbols and traditions reclined in their midst.
They had seen Jesus take the Passover cup and give thanks. They had heard His words: "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, 'I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'"
But the disciples really had no idea what Jesus meant by "suffer." He had tried to forewarn them, but there was no place for a dead king in their visions of the kingdom. Perhaps they heard what they wanted to hear and discarded what didn’t fit.
So, there they were in the silence of Saturday, struggling in their own sea of doubt and disillusionment, trying to make sense of any of it, and wondering why God seemed to sit on His hands and do nothing. They likely wondered what could possibly be next for them and their faith.
The Silence of Saturday in the Modern Era
This Easter Saturday, may we linger for a while in silence so that the magnitude of that empty tomb might impact us like never before, and the life-changing power of His Resurrection may have free reign to do its mighty work in us.
If you find yourself in a “season of silence,” take hope! It is good to linger, but we were not made to live there. God made a lot of noise on Friday. He appeared to be silent on Saturday. But God and His angels rocked the house and conquered death itself on Sunday. It may be Saturday with all of its silence and struggles, but Sunday is coming, and with it comes the promise of resurrection!
A Note About Good Friday
Good Friday is a day to remember Christ’s ascent up the hill of sacrifice. His ascent up that hill was the very purpose of His life—He said so Himself. He had come, He said, "not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Evidently, the climax of His service was His sacrifice. It was not simply the end of His mortal life; it was the goal of His immortal life. It was not the end of the story—it was the theme of the story.