Weekend Musings on Holy Saturday

Artist: Correggio, completed in A.D. 1525. Style: Mannerism, Late Renaissance. Oil on Canvas

Sabbatum Sanctum or “Holy Saturday” is the day between the horrors of the crucifixion and the wonders and glories of the resurrection. 

Jesus died at 3 PM on Friday after a three-hour preternatural darkness had fallen over the earth. The Jewish Sabbath was approaching, and so Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a member of the council, (see Matthew 27:57ff and John 19:38ff), got permission to take the body of Christ down from the cross and bury it in his own new tomb which he had carved out of rock.

Nicodemus, another member of the council, who had not consented to the decision to kill Jesus, was there to hurriedly anoint the body with about 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. And then the tomb was sealed before the 6 o’clock hour and the beginning of the Sabbath.

Sabbattum Sanctum began.

Any part of a day was considered “a day” in the Jewish mind and so Jesus lay for three days in the womb of the earth, while outside and above, his followers mourned in a numbing weight of grief and time-slowing sorrow and confusion. 

Holy Saturday must have felt like the longest day of their lives. 

But Sunday was coming.
The sunrise  of the third day was approaching.
The tomb was still full, but not for long.

Church of the Nativity, Rancho Santa Fe, California

 

One thousand nine hundred eighty-five years ago, “God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Book of Romans 5:8).” 

What can the believing heart say of these things? With all our words we are wordless.

The cross proved his love. The resurrection revealed it. O what a happy people we are who have been brought to this comfort! Thanks be to God.

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