Friday is a horrible but starkly beautiful day as Jesus dies on the cross in our place. We see perfect love played out to its final end. We see heaven stretched across earth in an unmatched sacrifice. Friday is bloody and cruel and exquisite as Jesus cries “It is finished” and breathes his final fully human breath on earth. The spotless lamb sacrificed for the sins of the world, the final act of God's morality play. On Friday we cry, we curse, we gasp at the horror our teacher, our friend tortured and killed on a splintered wooden cross. As abhorrent as Friday is we know that it is neccesary. There is a purpose.
Sunday breaks bright, crisp, clear. The soldiers have fainted, the stone is rolled away, the body is gone. Jesus stands in the brilliant light, our savior risen from the dead. Hope is restored, but it is a new hope, a perfect hope. What was unclear on Thursday and destroyed on Friday is written in bold strokes across the sky for the world to know. There are angels and choirs and laughing children. There are flowers and trees and brilliant blue sky. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
But Saturday. The final image of Friday sears our memory; the broken, bloody, lifeless body of Jesus laying in the dirt at the foot of the cross. Our hopes, dreams, aspirations lay with him. We thought we knew. We thought we saw. We thought we believed. But we were wrong. Everything we thought we'd believed is no longer true. The future we believed was so bright was an illusion. We followed, we listened, we strained to understand. But none of that matters. Jesus is dead, his lifeless body sealed in a tomb. His face hidden, his voice silent. What did it all mean?
It is on Saturday that we are formed. On Friday we mourn, on Sunday we celebrate, but on Saturday we grow, we become. Moses endured his Saturday tending sheep and hiding from the law, Joseph's Saturday was as a slave and a prisoner. David spent Saturday in a cave with a band of rejects. Jesus' Saturday, his first Saturday, was 40 days without food or water, alone except for Satan, in a barren desert. It seems there is no path from Friday to Sunday without going through Saturday.
We often spend Saturday resenting Friday, bitter that it didn't turn out the way we drew it in our mind. We spend Saturday dreaming of Sunday when we won't have to tend the sheep, wash Potipher's dishes or hide from Saul. We miss the richness of Saturday.
What if Saturday is exactly where God wants me to be? There may be faith questions I need to wrestle to the ground, character issues I need to see and deal with, relational challenges I need to work through. If I spend all of my time in the drama of Friday or the celebration of Sunday I will miss the maturity of Saturday.
The challenge with Saturday is we don't know when, or if, Sunday will come. It is easy in retrospect to see the beauty of Saturday when I know the whole story, but when I am mourning a loss, feeling alone, not seeing a bright future perspective is difficult. When we are in a Saturday all we can do is keep faith that there will be a Sunday and focus on learning everything we can learn before sunrise.
I don't like Saturday, but I'm thankful for it.