The Worst Saturday Ever
“50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Luke 23:50-56
It’s a Saturday morning. As our calendars have started to creep toward Easter, I have focused my morning Bible readings on the passion story of Jesus. Today, I read Luke 23. These are the words which took captive my attention, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” These words describe the disciples’ experience on the Saturday following the crucifixion of Jesus. What a depressing day this must have been for the Jesus community. I imagine how they must have spent the day in disappointed silence, their heads buried under covers in sadness and isolation. The worst Friday ever followed by the worst Saturday ever. We know something of sad Saturdays, don’t we?
I think of Dewayne. I met Dewayne one Saturday more than 15 years ago as he pulled weeds in my neighbor’s flowerbed. In appearance, he looked poor, but physically strong. I learned later that Dewayne’s life was more difficult than I had supposed; he lived alone, far outside of town, in a small trailer without indoor plumbing. I’ve met other people through the years whose lives were not unlike Dewayne’s, but I don’t think any of them smiled with Dewayne’s smile or lived with Dewayne’s hope.
On that Saturday morning many years ago, Dewayne and I chatted about LSU baseball, humidity, and pesticide. I explained how I was a new local pastor and Dewayne told me he had lived in the same little section of woods all his 50+ years. We both said something like “It’s nice to meet you” and went back to our lawn work. And that’s when it happened. I was clear across my yard when I heard Dewayne shout, “Hey Pastor, Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning!” In that moment, I thought how all of Dewayne’s life must have felt like a night of weeping. And yet, he did not weep. He smiled. He smiled one of the most sincere smiles I have ever witnessed. He smiled because he was waiting for the joy of the morning!
The disciples must have shed tears that Saturday. But Sunday morning was coming. And so too for us. Night has fallen, but morning is coming! We might be weeping now, but joy is coming! Easter is coming! Remember the worst Friday ever was followed by the worst Saturday ever and it was followed by the best Sunday ever. Keep smiling everybody.