What happens on the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?
Well, if you were a Roman, it was a regular business day. You’d go off to work and be about your business. That was normal for you because you didn’t know anything different. Romans did not have a “work from rest” attitude. Quite the opposite. Their 8-day work week was more of a “rest from your work” mindset… much like we have in America, today.
However, if you were of the Hebrew tradition and Jewish, you would be doing the same thing that has happened every Saturday since the beginning of creation. It was a normal, ordinary Sabbath Saturday.
Like the women who brought spices and perfume to Jesus’ tomb (Luke 23:56), you would rest. Work would stop. Your business would be the hipster version of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A and be closed before it was cool. You’d go to worship. You’d sing songs. You’d pray prayers. You’d bring an offering. You spend time with your family. You may even take a nap. You would remember that life doesn’t depend on your work, but on the work of Your creator and His coming Messiah.
That first Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday was incredibly ordinary and normal. And, in its own way, it was normal and ordinary for Jesus, too.
Jesus rested. He is lying in a tomb. He did absolutely nothing. He was at rest.
Church history would say that Jesus descended into hell. This idea is taken from 1 Peter 4:6 which says that Jesus proclaimed good news to the dead. Ephesians 4:9 also says that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. And while the gospels do not speak explicitly of this, it makes sense. Our statement of faith actually says, “he descended into hell”. Thankfully, salvation doesn’t depend on knowing for sure and faith gives us the latitude to be curious.
For sure, we know that Jesus’ lifeless body is laying in Joseph’s cold, dark tomb. According to the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus’ tomb is guarded by Roman guards because Jews can’t work on the Sabbath and they’re afraid Jesus’ followers might steal the body since Jesus prophesied that He would rise on the third day.
So, what is Jesus humanly doing between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? Jesus is resting in perfect Shabbat Shalom. . . Sabbath Peace. Wholeness. Completeness. His lifeless body is here on earth. His spirit is in God, His Father’s hands (Luke 23:46).
This may shape a whole new understanding to the term “rest in peace” which is sometimes said when somebody dies or at a funeral or memorial service.
We remember that the next day began at sundown. So as the sun goes down on Saturday, a new day begins… a new week emerges… Resurrection life walks out of the cold, dark, dead grave. . .
Church traditions include a Saturday evening service called, “vigil”. Oftentimes, there would be mass baptisms, the church would welcome new members, and there would be a party. Not only is it a picture of the new life of Jesus that emerges within the church, but baptism, membership, and a party is also a fun picture of the forever life of a forever Sabbath in heaven!
So how will your Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday play out this year?
And what would it take for our Saturday to become a Shabbat Shalom so that when next year’s “Holy Saturday” comes around, Jesus’ Sabbath Peace would be just your regular, ordinary, normal Saturday. . . just like God had ordered it from the very beginning.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.