By Herbie Newell, President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services
While we don’t talk much during Holy Week about Silent Saturday, the truth is that we currently live in another seemingly silent time between Easter and the glorious appearing.
Imagine the feelings and emotions that the disciples must have been experiencing on the day after Jesus died – fear, guilt, remorse, grief, and confusion. You can imagine Peter truly beating himself up over denying Christ not once, not twice, but three times. You can feel the guilt, the remorse, and quite honestly, the anger and resentment that he may have had towards himself.
It’s quite plausible that Peter daydreamed about how the outcome may have been different if he had remained strong and faithful. Fighting off the Roman guards, convincing the High Priest to release Jesus, and appealing to Pontius Pilate, are all ways Peter could have deluded himself. Instead, on Saturday Peter may have asked himself “what if” while telling himself “if only” things were different. I have to believe that even on Silent Saturday, Peter was wallowing in his own strength.
Next, we look at Simon the Zealot. While we don’t know much about Simon, it says a lot that he is called a zealot. He would have been one of the more religious of the 12 and definitely one of the more fundamental. It’s not hard to fathom that Simon regretted following Jesus, thinking he was the prophesied Messiah. Undoubtedly, he could have been asking himself if he had done enough, prayed enough, studied enough, or taught the others enough. He was probably more concerned about why he didn’t have the influence of James, John, or even Peter – he trusted his influence and religiosity and thought, perhaps, the outcome could have been different.
Thomas was most probably already doubting why he had left everything and followed Jesus. He knew Jesus had been a good man, but Thomas had also witnessed Jesus perform countless spellbinding miracles. However, doubt was most probably wrecking him on Saturday. If Thomas is anything like me, that doubt leads to despair. Doubting his decisions over the last three years, Thomas was now in full lockdown from despair over what steps to take next.
And then James and John, the Sons of Thunder, the self-appointed leaders over this group, were most certainly grieving and probably plotting their next moves. They thought they would sit at places of significance and power – at the right and left of Jesus, but now that gig was over. They needed to attach their wagon to someone else. Were they already moving on to the next thing?
Obviously, this is all conjecture. The only thing that we do know for certain is that fear crippled the disciples. After Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ, scripture tells us in all four Gospels that she ran to tell the disciples. Luke and Mark tell us that Peter and John took off to the tomb; however, Matthew and John give us more insight into the posture of the disciples.
John tells us in John 20:19, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Similarly, Matthew records the first words of Jesus to the disciples as, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)
Beloved, today in 2022, the emotions we experience are very similar to the ones the disciples experienced over 2,000 years ago. We feel fearful, guilty, remorseful, angry, and resentful. Many times we try to do in our own power what is only sufficient to do in the power of God. Desperately trying to take control of our lives, we are too quickly distracted by the world and her empty promises.
Just like the disciples, we have the Word of God that can give us great hope and point us to the truth about our Savior. The disciples could have easily spent Saturday praying as Jesus taught them or studying the prophets who Jesus continually quoted. We must be careful not to fall into the same trap. In our waiting, we have access to the Father through intercession by the Spirit as well as the precious Word of God at our fingertips.
So much of our life is lived in the waiting – in between the already and the not yet. Could it be that the Saturday between the cross and the resurrection holds as many lessons and as much hope as Good Friday and Easter? It’s in the waiting that our faith grows, our hearts learn to fix themselves on the promises of God, and our plans turn from our ideas to His sovereign will.
There is great HOPE in the gospel on Friday, Sunday, and Saturday. Jesus tells Thomas after proving wrong his doubts about the resurrection, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) We have true everlasting hope.
But what about the vulnerable woman and child, the orphan trapped on the streets, or behind the walls of an orphanage? What is the hope of the child awaiting a family? How is the child bounced around from foster home to experience hope in their story?
Beloved, we must let Silent Saturday become our wake-up call to the hurt and pain of a world that has never experienced the glorious reality of Easter Sunday. “We have this treasure (hope) in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Today, our response to the glory of Christ’s resurrection cannot be silence. We cannot sit on the sidelines apathetically because Good Friday and Easter release us to live with reckless abandon for the high calling to make the Gospel known to every tribe, tongue, and people. Will you join us? We need you to lean into the hope of Jesus offered this Easter weekend and partner with Lifeline in our mission to manifest the gospel to orphans and vulnerable women and children.
Visit LifelineChild.org to donate to the cause, apply to adopt, sign up for a trip to visit orphans in need through our (un)adopted ministry, apply to be a foster parent for a child in U.S. foster care, to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans, and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to take the Hope of Easter to the fatherless.