The week had been eventful. There was a euphoria in the air, strong rumor had it that Jesus was preparing to bring His kingdom to earth. What would eventually be called the Last Supper, was a meal that had been the crescendo to an amazing week. Expectations were off the chart. Excitement and faith were at an all-time high. That was Thursday, but then Friday happened. Faith turned to fear and excitement into astonishment. The unimaginable had happened. Jesus was dead, in a tomb, and the dreams of the disciples are broken like a crystal vase. Fridays are difficult and dreadful. Fridays are filled with hurt and pain. Fridays are packed with accusations and betrayal. Jesus faced all of life’s pain on Friday. Friends betrayed and abandoned him. Accusations were accepted as truth without question. There were emotional and mental attacks on his person, integrity, and character. He was mocked, ridiculed and made a laughingstock by the crowd who had gathered on Golgotha’s hill. The physical abuse he has endured was beyond imagination and more than anyone should ever face. As He hangs on Calvary, death will be a blessing. The pulsating pain running through his hands and feet are surpassed only by the throbbing agony brought by the thorns that are penetrating his brain. Every breath is torturous as his back, plowed open like a spring field, rubs against a cross that feels like sandpaper. The sky is now dark, his friends and family all gone, save his mom and John; death is but moments away. With one last breath Friday will finally be over. We all hate Fridays. Fridays when sickness, disease, and cancer ravages a body, death visits our family or a friend. We abhor Fridays when we’ve made terrible decisions, when divorce visits our marriage, and when we’ve been betrayed, mocked, or we are the recipient of ugly and untrue gossip. We hate Fridays when we did our best, but our children still turned from God. On Friday, sunsets can’t come fast enough, and the darkness of night will at least signal an end of the day. Saturday is different. The events of Friday are over. Jesus’ body is off the cross, it’s now wrapped in cloth, and the tomb is sealed. In the grave blood oozes through the fabric where the nails had pierced His hands, feet, side, and skull. The stone where he lies is stained with a pool of blood from the scourging of his back. This day there is no more pain, the accusations and attacks are mute, and now darkness and silence are Jesus’ only companions. While Fridays are unbearable, Saturdays can be as excruciating. Saturday, when cancer miraculously recedes but we are left with its traumatic aftereffects. Saturday, when we’ve survived the heart attack, but our emotions are drastically different. Saturday, when the divorce is final, and we are left to try to pick up the pieces and forge on. Saturday, when the death of a spouse, family member, or friend is final, and we now have to live life with the terrible void left in our hearts. Saturday, the darkness, and silence it brings, can be as overwhelming as the literal pain of Friday. Saturday leaves us with more questions than answers, more darkness than the darkest night, more uncertainty than we’ve ever experienced, and more fear than anyone could ever imagine. We know Fridays will end with finality, either healing or heaven, but Saturday leaves us with no voices of encouragement, no one to lift our faith, and no date of expiration as too when the darkness will disappear, and light will shine bright again. How do we survive Saturday? In the faith that there will be a Sunday, that what Jesus said will come to pass. That as He resurrected, your situation too can come back to life. You survive Saturday by remembering the blind being given their sight, the lame walking, and Lazarus being brought back from the dead. You survive Saturday by remembering the mercy showed by Jesus to a Samaritan woman with five husbands at a well, and grace extended to a woman caught in the middle of a wild sexual tryst. Saturdays are when God often leaves us alone but teaches us to know He is still with us. May I say that again? Saturdays are when He leaves us alone but is still with us. Saturdays may mean leaning in and waiting patiently, quietly, and humbly, praying, and resting in the fact that He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Saturday may last a day, a week, a year, or possibly even decades but no matter how lonely, how dark, how overwhelming, or how long Saturday is, know that there is a Sunday in our future (John 14:3, Acts 1:11). God went through Saturday to show us the way and that we too can survive our Saturday. Sundays, they happen in an instant. One moment death, the next resurrection and life. A move of the Spirit, an unexpected change in a person, a blessing that overwhelms, an opportunity that comes out of nowhere, or physical miracle that forever is your testimony. Sometimes a Sunday means an eternal ticket to an everlasting Sunday; no more pain, sickness, or struggles with this life. If you are experiencing or have lived in a Saturday, I encourage you to take on a new perspective this Easter, begin living with an expectation that your Sunday is on its way!
Silence. It can be awkward, difficult and confusing. It’s the feeling a widow or widower has the first night after the love of their life has breathed their last breath and they are all alone. It’s the feeling parents experience when they have had a house full of kids, watched them grow from infant to adult, taken them to band, cheered them on in their sports, had them around the dinner table and the last one has left the home and you now come home to an empty house. As a spouse, have you ever got the silent treatment? Often, you’re not sure why, and silently you are asking, did I leave my socks on the table again? Did I say something I wasn’t supposed to at the dinner party? The silence lets you know something is definitely wrong. It’s a first date or walking into a meeting where no one knows anyone and there’s that awkward moment when no one knows what to say or do. Whatever the scenario, silence begs for something to happen, anything. A friend to call the widow. A grandchild to enter the scene of a parent. Or a spouse thinking, please, let me know what I did to create this silence. That is what Saturday was like for those lived through Jesus’ Passion Week. They will survive the hurt, the actions and events of Friday and once they understand, experience and grasp the miraculous resurrection on Sunday, they will celebrate, but the silence of Saturday is overwhelming. On Saturday is when we deal with our own failures of yesterday. On Saturday is when we feel the chill of darkness, that it won, and we lost. On Saturday we live in the real possibility that our Hope is dead, and life will never be the same. On Saturday we feel as though God has failed us. Living in a Saturday? Take heart in Easter! That as impossible as things might feel today, you may be just be a few hours or days away from a life changing moment, an Easter, a moment that makes your life better than you could ever imagine!
What do you believe? It’s an important question because what you believe becomes your truth, it becomes what you live your life around. As a society we are living in a time when beliefs are being fiercely challenged. The internet, access to information, and exposure to so many ideas and opinions are impacting life as never before. This is why personal ownership of belief is critical in this hour. Our beliefs can’t be based on religious tradition, church denomination or a pastor’s personal beliefs, it must be your belief. Your belief must come from a reputable source. It must be a source that has been proven true and has stood the test of time. Your belief must be something you have studied and can defend. I have always found my beliefs in God’s Word, but in today’s world, even that is being challenged. God’s Word has been eliminated from schools, mocked by media and is being explained away by educators and science. For it to be secure in our life, for our family’s future, it must be something we read, study and have ownership of. So, what do I believe? I believe that God came to this earth as Jesus. I believe that He healed people that were blind, deaf, lame and had diseases. I believe Jesus walked on water, multiplied bread and brought dead people back to life. I believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross, died and resurrected and was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses. I believe He sent His Spirit first to a group of people in an upper room and then to every culture and period of time. This is my belief, I own it and its what I build my life, my family and my future upon. What do you believe? It’s a choice. It’s God gift to you.
Empty. It’s not a word we necessarily like. Running late, we hop in the car, look at the gas gauge and it’s on empty. You get a bowl out of the cabinet, get the milk out and go to grab your favorite box of cereal, only to find someone has left a nearly empty box in the cabinet. Ever been in a relationship that felt empty? It seems no matter how much you pour into the relationship, somehow it still feels empty. I must admit that there are times in my own life I feel like I’m running on empty. Empty, it means containing nothing, vacant or unoccupied, and while the word often leaves us frustrated, there is one instance where we are thankful for empty. Easter, the one moment we celebrate empty. A broken and empty hearted Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James are taking spices to anoint Jesus’ body and we they get there, they are met with the unfathomable, the stone is rolled away and a tomb that is empty. Met by an angel they hear the words we will forever celebrate, “He is not here, He has risen.” It’s the one instance when empty means full. An empty tomb means a resurrected savior. An empty tomb means that death, hell and the grave has been defeated. An empty tomb means the blood of Jesus has power over the power of sin. An empty tomb means we have access to God; to His grace, mercy and love. An empty tomb means our lives can be full of His Spirit, joy unspeakable and unlimited possibilities. An empty tomb means we can look forward to an eternal life. My life is full because of an empty tomb. Easter. An empty tomb. The one moment when empty means full!