The Significance of Saturday

Today is Saturday.

It’s the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Does today have a name? Easter Eve? Easter Saturday? No, apparently that’s the Saturday after Easter.

Even if it has a name, no one that I know does anything religious on it. A lot of churches have Maundy Thursday services, and a lot have Good Friday services, and some have both.

And all churches have Easter Sunday services, when women where hats and men wear pastels to church.

Some Eastern churches observe matins on Friday night—which would be the beginning of Saturday in the Jewish tradition—which take the form of a funeral service for Jesus.

In the West the Catholic church strips the chancel bare, and no masses are held today.

Most of us spend today getting ready for Easter: last minute Easter candy shopping, or getting ready to have the family over for Easter dinner.

Some years this day is spent like a lot of spring Saturdays: doing yard work, cleaning garages, spring cleaning.

Maundy Thursday is a thing. Good Friday is a thing. Easter Sunday is a thing.

Today is just…Saturday.

The gospel writers skip this day. Nothing happens. Jesus is in the tomb, his followers are in despair. I suppose. Nothing is written about this day. Matthew, Mark and John go straight from Friday to Sunday.

Luke just says, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

Ah, yes, the commandment, one of the Ten that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai. There are two explanations given in the Torah for Sabbath observance.

One has to do with slavery. “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)

The other has to do with Creation.  “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” (Exodus 20:11)

According to one the Sabbath commemorates the Hebrews freedom from slavery; according to the other it commemorates the completion of Creation.

Both messages are at work on the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, between the death of Jesus and his resurrection.

Upon his death Jesus had freed us from our slavery to Sin and Death, from our toxic addiction to power and violence and self-centeredness and immorality and exploitation.

According to the Apostle’s Creed Jesus descended to Hell (Sheol), creedal shorthand for when he ripped the gates of Death from their hinges and liberated the captives.

His death paid the ransom price wherein the slaves were redeemed and could now live as free men and women.

The blood of the Passover Lamb was shed so that the people could be delivered from death into life.

The disciples might have been quiet on Saturday, but Jesus was quite busy.

But I’m particularly enamored by the connection of this day to Creation. On this day, on this Sabbath, immediately following the Sixth Day work of Jesus on the cross, God rested.

The work of New Creation was complete. The Old Creation was over, the one that was so filled with violence that God regretted he had done it. (Genesis 5:6)

New Creation had come. It had taken over. Life, new life, was bursting forth.

And God saw the New Creation, everything that he had (re)made, that it was very good.

And God said, “With You I am very pleased.”

It’s not for nothing that John places the Resurrection in a garden, or that Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener. Creation started in the Garden, and so did New Creation.

The first Creation needed a gardener to take care of the garden. The New Creation needs a New Gardener to have dominion over it.

A Second Adam, as Paul calls him. (1 Corinthians 15:45-47)

That’s who Mary saw, when she mistakenly but accurately thinks that Jesus is the gardener.

Today isn’t just the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

It is the First Sabbath of the New Creation.

 

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