Jesus is dead. Say it again: Our Lord is a lifeless body, wept over by a few women, his friends having scattered. Darkness lies over the land. We can imagine the disciples, on that terrible Saturday, puzzling over what seemed to be shattered hopes. “We had hoped,” Cleopas would say a day later on the road to Emmaus, “that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21). Is this what the vindication of Israel looks like? Is this what the Kingdom of God looks like? Or is it what it seems to be – shame, death, defeat?
What is there to do? Perhaps only to give up. Yet not everyone had abandoned Him. In the waning hours of Friday, a few stayed faithful, even if it was a faith without hope. Joseph of Arimathea, a man “looking for the kingdom of God,” did what he could, even if it was pathetically little. “This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid… The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.” (Lk 23:51-56).
A bitter, sorrowful obedience. Not a joyful anticipation of the Resurrection, for we know that they did not understand. The world shook at the moment of the Lord’s death, but then it seemed to go on just as always. Shouldn’t the world have paused, with the Son of God lying dead in the tomb?
We have to go through Good Friday to get to Easter. But we also have to go through Holy Saturday. The time of waiting: time to let the significance of His atoning death seep in; to face the sins that sent Him to the cross.