LENT—Day 45: “Saturday-Holy Week” [2011APR23]
“In stillness earth awaits the resurrection…”
Holy Saturday… (Excerpted from The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister)
Everyone who has ever lived, who will ever live, will someday undergo a Holy Saturday of our own. Someday we will all know the power of overwhelming loss when life as we know it changes, when all hope dies in midflight. Then, and only then, can we begin to understand the purpose of Holy Saturday.
Holy Saturday faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing in hope.
Today, alone and bereft, we come face-to-face with the question we try so hard to avoid the rest of the year: how do we deal with the God of darkness as well as the Giver of light?
It is now, when we feel the absence of Jesus most keenly, that we can find ourselves listening to Him most intensely. All of a sudden we are totally immersed in what He has come to be to us. Now we see just exactly how much His life and words mean to us. We begin to realize that we have already been changed by it. What can we possibly do without it?
Job 14:1-4 ______ How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. Can the dead live again? If so this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.
1 Peter 4:1-8_______ “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourself with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your life chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.”
There have been a few phrases that have captured my thoughts during the last couple days from my meditation during this Holy Tridium. Phrase one from Mark 14:60-62 is responsible for the beginning of this meditation; “But Jesus was silent and made no reply.” Another phrase comes from Luke’s gospel (Luke 23:44-46) and reads, “Then Jesus shouted, ‘Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands.’” The longer I have spent considering these phrase, and the phrases that accompanied other events related to this Paschal weekend, the more I have realized something. I have created a timeline to help visualize the events and the significant teaching Jesus pours out to us.
As I gaze at the timeline and meditate upon the events that it spans, I’m drawn to consider the image that appears from this collective series. I see Jesus teaching his followers and modeling before them how to become a true Son of the Living God… or perhaps, the process-pathway for his followers to embark upon to become sons (and daughters) themselves. The process involves rebirth, of that there is no doubt (John 3:3-5); however, our rebirth requires humility and complete obedience. Humility is the prerequisite to entering the pathway to sonship (Luke 9:23-34; Luke 14:33; Phil. 2:5-9).
Complete obedience requires loving submission and not lawful compliance; do not be deceived, there is a difference between the two descriptions. Once the pathway of sonship is engaged, the fruit of becoming a son is manifest with the evidence of knowledge, confidence, self-awareness, and full assurance.
Track the timeline beginning with the evening of Maundy Thursday: In Gethsemane Jesus shows himself fully submitted to the Father. He has stated this about himself before (John 5:19 NLT), but here he exhibits it in a most personal way. Baring his innermost feelings and being “anguished deep within his soul,” he asks the Father to remove the burden of the sacrificial death from his path, but above and beyond his despair and grief he lovingly and voluntarily humbles himself to the Father with complete and obedient submission… “not my will, but your will be done” (Mark 14:36).
Holy Friday brings Jesus on trial before the council of the Sanhedrin. Knowing who he was and confident in calling and mission he is accused of crimes he did not commit. When offered the opportunity to defend himself and answer the charges Jesus responds with silence and confident humility (Mark 14:61). Pilate turns Jesus over to Roman soldiers who beat him, torture him, and crucify him. At the moment of Jesus’ death in his greatest moment of humility and trust, he exclaims; “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus is laid to rest in a borrowed grave to be raised from the dead on Resurrection Sunday just as he had promised and with full agreement to what had been spoken of by the ancient prophets. When the women appeared on the morning following the Sabbath, they found the stone had been rolled away and “a young man clothed in shining white sitting on a stone” who told them, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” (Luke 24:6).
True humility can only be born out of a heart of submission (ie., under the authority of another). This requires the denial of self and voluntary laying aside of any rights one might have claim to. With this step, the humble servant accepts the ownership of the one they have submitted themselves to and inherits-acquires all the accompanying benefits and rights thereof. Sadly, many today seem to want to skip the step of self-denial and humility; they are determined to assume a false gospel by laying claim to the rights of sonship through Christ without following the path of the cross. The path to sonship through the cross will always begin with Gethsemane and always end with Golgotha. Without these critical mile-markers in the life of every follower, it is doubtful that divine adoption will occur.
Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name; bring offerings and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. For GOD alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. Hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin. Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s way. My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body shall also rest in hope. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful GOD. (Psalm 96:8-9; Psalm 6:6; Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8; Psalm 84:4; Psalm 16:9; Psalm 31:5