In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ burial he includes a detail that none of the other gospels share:
The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Sometimes we do what the disciples did. The priests and Pharisees remember the promise of resurrection and request a guard while the disciples forget and flee. Both acted out of fear. Sometimes fear gets the best of us too and snuffs out our hope of resurrection. May we meet fear with faith so that in times of distress and doubt we might remain faithful to our Lord and to his promises.
Sometimes we do what the Pharisees feared. The Pharisees requested the presence of a guard because they feared the disciples would come to steal the body of Jesus and falsely claim his resurrection. Had the disciples done this what the Pharisees said would be true, “The last deception would be worse than the first.” Yet, sometimes we do this very thing. Sometimes we blindly walk into dark situations with shallow words of encouragement and false words of hope. Not that encouragement is wrong or that our hope is false! But we rush too quickly from Friday to Sunday and forget the Saturday in-between: the day of mourning, the day of doubting, the day of waiting.
This day our happy-clappy praise and worship services are missing a vital element of the human experience: lament, grief, and mourning. It is true that we are not to grieve as those without hope yet we must still grieve! That is today. Holy Saturday. We would do well today to remember these words:
Weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
It is okay to weep. It is okay to mourn. Let yourself feel the weight of it all. Sunday is coming, but today is Saturday. Sunday we will rejoice with those who rejoice, but today let us weep with the ones who are weeping.
Christ our God,
your love is poured out in death for our sakes.
Hold us in your embrace
as we wait for Easter’s dawn.
Comfort us with the promise that no power on earth, not even death itself,
can separate us from your love;
and strengthen us to wait
until you are revealed to us
in all your risen glory. Amen.