Saturday, April 4, 2015

Silent Saturday

And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. 

Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. (Matthew 27:59-66 NASB)

Despite all Jesus had told them ahead of time, His followers were shocked and heart-broken when He was crucified. They were devastated when they realized that He wasn't going to do a miracle and get Himself off that cross. He was dead and their world was shattered. The two women followed the body to the tomb, saw Him laid in the grave, saw the stone rolled over the entrance. 

He was gone. All hope of the Messiah, the new Kingdom was over. It was the end.

It was also the beginning, but no one knew that yet. 

It was the chief priests and Pharisees who expected something to happen, not his followers. The unbelievers remembered that Jesus had said He would rise after three days and they knew He did what He said He would. There was something in those unbelievers that believed He might rise, but there was also something more that believed a grand deception might be under way. They were taking no chances. The stone was already there, but they secured a seal on the stone and put guards before the stone. Jesus wasn't getting out of the grave if they could help it.

For the disciples, it was a terrible time. God was silent. They didn't know what to think, what to believe, much less what to do. They grieved. They wailed. They gnashed their teeth. They wept. Everything they had staked their lives for on the last few years was gone.

Most believers commemorate Good Friday and celebrate Easter, but we don't always take note of Silent Saturday. It is a deeply profound moment in time, however, because we so often experience those frightening days when our hope is shattered and God is silent. It is in those silent times that we are easily overwhelmed with desperation, thinking God has abandoned us, terrified that we will not survive our trial. 

It is in the silence, however, that God does some of His best work. It is in the silence that we learn to walk by faith and not by sight, that we learn the value of hope, the importance of perseverance. It is in the silent times that we stake our claim and learn to hold firm. It is in persevering through the silence that we learn to "own our faith" and become rock solid. We change from a Simon to a Peter.

Silence is a precious rarity but is a good way to acknowledge that God is still in charge, even when He is silent. He is still working out His plan, even when we can't see His hand. He is still on His throne, even when we feel He is gone. 

Today, spend some time in absolute silence. Let the phone ring unanswered. Let the emails wait. Take some time to be completely alone, totally silent, and meditate on the One who bring joy and light on the other side of the dark and the quiet. 

Be still and know that He is God.

Sunday is coming, with all the joy it brings, but don't forget to acknowledge Saturday. It's the beginning that makes Sunday so much sweeter.