Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 8: The 'in-between' day.

Today is Saturday.

For the disciples it was the in-between day.

Saturday is bookended with all the drama and misery of a death sentence on Friday and the confusing joy of Sunday.  So what do we do with Saturday?  Nothing happens on Saturday.  Jesus is gone.  The disciples are hiding.  Looks like evil won.  It is a strange Sabbath - eerie and quiet.

So where is Jesus?

Is He sleeping in the tomb?  Is He wrestling with the devil?  Did Jesus step out of His body and go up to heaven to take a break with God before the resurrection?  What happens in this 'in-between' time?

Jesus' followers may have thought that He went to Sheol - a kind of bleak, emotionless, grey place that people wandered.  This was more Hebrew folklore than reality.  Kind of like we say that people 'go to the grave' but we don't really think of them resting in the dirt.  For many Jews Sheol was kind of like a blurry holding place until "The Day of the Lord" in which God interrupts human history on the Day of Judgment.  Perhaps some day far in the future they will see Him again . . . they had no clue He was coming back to life in His body three days later.  

So is Jesus conscious, watching them?  From where?  And how?

Some early Christians take a couple verses in Peter and Jude to mean that maybe Jesus went to hell and preached to people there in order to repent.  It is a fascinating idea but the verses have so much symbolism in them we really aren't sure what those verses mean.  And anyhow, didn't Jesus say the thief would be with Him in Paradise . . . today?  How could he be in hell?  The whole thing seems like a giant mystery.

As a kid, I used to think of Jesus slipping out of the body and spending time in heaven between Friday and Sunday.  I don't like the idea of Him being really . . . dead.  The idea of Jesus being cold and lifeless in a dark tomb scares me.  It scares me to think of the extent to which God might go to overcome the darkness of death.  Could God really have made Himself so vulnerable as to be susceptible to death?  Our death?  My death?

Was Jesus really dead?

Remember, it was a resurrection - not a resuscitation.  For Jesus to have overcome death, He had to really die.  And I don't think that means that Jesus slipped His skin and went to heaven to meet up with people to prepare for Sunday morning.  That sounds more like Plato.  Plato taught that bodies and souls were separate.  The Old Testament seems to indicate that the body and soul are intertwined.  So resurrection means bringing life back to body and soul.

But I guess I won't know until I can ask God how He did it.

Anyway, this is beside the point.  I don't know where Jesus went, but the big question is already answered.  Death is not the end.  That in itself breaks the spell of Saturday as the bleak and dreary in-between day.  

Viewing Saturday from Sunday morning's perspective makes me grin.  If I was around on that Saturday and I knew that Jesus rose from the dead, I would have the biggest smile on my face.  My whole day would be consumed with telling people that Jesus will come back tomorrow.  Living Saturday with Sunday morning's reality is transforming.

And that is what our lives should look like.  When you think of it, our whole life is like one big Saturday.  We live at the in-between.  But we live there knowing that death is not the end.  So life doesn't have to be one be question mark.  We don't have to go around with the sadness of the cold tomb because we know that death has already been beat.

Today is Saturday - the 'in-between' day.  

Are you going to live it with doubt or with a grin on your face?  Will you go about today knowing that your job, your enemies, your unanswered questions, deepest hurts and greatest temptations do not win in the end?  

Go about today with with a smile on your face from the knowledge that - because you have placed your trust in Christ - Sunday holds good news.  Just like Jesus, you will walk away from a tomb into new life one day - a new life that never ends.

And there ain't nothing that can change that.

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