God of the Grave

Today is Holy Saturday.  This is the day of Holy Week that is often missed.  It is the day that most of us would rather ignore.  This is the often forgotten day between the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday.  This is the day of an entombed savior.  This is a day of separation and sorrow.  This is Holy Saturday, and it is heavy. 

However, let's a new look at this day.  Not only is all of the above true, but this day can also remind us that God is a God who is with us in every way. The proclamation of "Emmanuel" - "God with us" - is not only true in the manger but also in the grave! God is a God with us even in our deepest sorrows, feelings of separation and seasons of grief. 

This is a theme that is echoed in the voice of the prophets.  Isaiah proclaims that the promised one is "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3, 4 RSV).  It is also picked up in the songs of the psalmists. The author of Psalm 139 writes, "if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), you are there" (Psalm 139:8 NRSV).  We can also find it echoed in the pen of the author of the book Hebrews when we read, "Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are" (Hebrews 4:14-15 NRSV).  And Jesus is recorded as having said,  "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV). 

On this Holy Saturday, a day of sorrow and separation - a day when Jesus lies in a borrowed tomb - we can celebrate the God of the Grave.  In our celebration, we can be reminded that God will never leave us or forsake us; not even in the darkest night nor in the shadow of the grave.

And tomorrow, with Easter's rising, we will shout our "Hallelujahs" all the more.
First Century Tomb in Israel


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