We live in a nation, and attend churches, that are convinced of their own "exceptionalism". This makes it difficult to know what to do with the Saturday before Easter. Our culture teaches us that everything needs to be celebrated. Nearly nothing can be mourned. Even "Good" Friday must be looked at in a positive, hopeful light. But if we look at Saturday from the perspective of the disciples, lament is probably the only option.
You just watched your master, the person you were convinced was the Messiah, die a horrific death on a Roman Cross. You watched your religious leaders and all of the people publicly reject him. You saw his beating. You followed his trail of blood out of the city. You heard his gasps for breath. You read his lips as he questioned why even his own Father forsook him.
You helped take his body down from the cross. You laid it in a tomb and you watched the stone being rolled in front of it.
And then you saw it sealed.
It was over.
The next morning you woke up in a daze. For the past 3 years you had followed this man around. You walked with him, laughed with him, fed thousands of hungry people with him. You survived storms together. You even saw him heal the sick and raise people from the dead.
But now the cross is empty and the tomb is occupied. And all you can think about is the way you ran away when the soldiers came. Even after you looked him in the eye and swore you would never do such a thing!!!
What a horrible day Saturday must have been.
Not only did Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, die. But he died alone.
Because you abandoned him
On a day like that, there is only one spiritual discipline that you can cling to. Only one holy practice that you could possibly engage in.
What do you do on the day that the cross is empty and the tomb is still sealed?
You weep. You mourn.
Friday has happened. And Sunday is coming. But if we skip over the pain, confusion and despair of Saturday we devalue them both.