Reflections: Holy Saturday

Today’s Reading: Matthew 27:57-66

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 13:17-14:9; Hebrews 7:1-22

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:3-4)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When God created the heavens and the earth and everything that fills them in six days, He rested on the seventh day. He commanded that the seventh day, Saturday, be a day of rest for His people. That seventh day is called the “Sabbath,” which literally means “the rest day.” But the day of rest has been disfigured by sin and sinfulness. Instead of resting in the grace of God, people (including you!) have filled it with work and play and have ignored the rest that God has given you in this day. 

That’s why the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is so important. On Friday afternoon, the body of Jesus was laid to rest in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He rested there until His return to life and His resurrection. It’s like creation held its breath between one week and another, between the fullness of sin and the fullness of God’s grace revealed. Jesus Christ died so that you would have the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He rested, inviting you into the rest of His grace. 

How will you spend this day, the day that seems suspended between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Is today a day simply for Easter egg hunts or shopping for Easter clothes or the mundane activities of weekly life? Maybe. But make today also a day of resting in God’s grace. As Jesus rested in the tomb for you, rest in the grace of Jesus Christ. He has taken your sins to the Cross, and now that He has died for those sins, you truly have rest. Today is a day of joy and true relaxation, because Jesus has died for you and given you what sinners without God’s grace can’t have–rest. 

Today, if the devil, the world, and your own sinful nature come to you calling you a sinner who doesn’t deserve God’s rest, tell them to leave you alone, because you have the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and that gives you the fullness of God’s rest. After all, it is Jesus who holds all creation together and He is the One who gives you complete and total rest. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Holy Saturday)

-Rev. Peter Ill is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.