Holy Week Devotional: Saturday, April 20

Published April 20, 2019 by Dolores Rader

Job 14:1–14; Matthew 27:57–66

It is Saturday. The evening before, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' body down from the cross and laid it in a tomb cut out of rock. The despair and anguish of those who believed must have created a palpable, near-suffocating heaviness. Hope was lost. All was lost.

But now it is the Sabbath. We cannot work. No deliberate activity is allowed. We do not go about our regular lives and the things we believe to be important. We observe the Sabbath and wait. We can't fix things. We can't prepare things. We can't do laundry. We can't cross a single thing off our extremely important to do list. What are we to do when such tragedy strikes taking with it all hope when we are obligated to refrain from doing anything about it? We cannot prepare the body. We cannot offer solutions or fix this in any way. But what we are allowed to do on Saturday is exactly what we need to do. In the midst of wilderness, God has already spoken to us. God has laid out long before, the rules to deal with this unbearable day. It's the Sabbath and therefore, we pray. We listen for God in the wilderness. We speak our words to the universe and wait—expecting to hear from God.

Our waiting and praying is not in vain for within hours, less than one day, the answer has become crystal clear. The gospel story shines brightly exclaiming hope to every corner of the world.

But let us not forget about the chief priests and the Pharisees. They did not observe the Sabbath. Rather they went about intentionally colluding with Pilate to maneuver a plan which benefitted them—the opposite of what should be happening. Fear drove them to disregard the word of God and to take matter into their own hands. They worked on Saturday to ensure the tomb was secure so that the proclamation of the "deceiver" would be deemed a farce.

On this Saturday, what path do we choose? Do we choose to pray with hope like a tree, listening for God's Word in our extreme conditions? Can we be still and wait on God's great unveiling? Or, like the priests and Pharisees, do we choose to take matters into our own hands, determining on our own our version of truth and the course that must be taken?