Reflection

It is striking that after Jesus’ death there are no close companions left to claim his body. All his public followers scattered. Only a secret follower, Joseph of Arimathea, accompanied by Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin, requests his body for burial. They anoint Jesus and lay him in Joseph’s unused tomb. The entrance is sealed. God is dead! 

There is a palpable gloom that accompanies the bearing of Jesus’ body to the tomb. 

On Saturday, Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished,” are yet to be interpreted in their salvific light. On this blackest of Saturdays, he is a cadaver, stiff, lifeless, pierced through hands, feet, and side. The blood that once flowed through his veins has clotted and pooled, discoloring his skin. It is indeed finished. His followers’ bright hope has turned to dread and despair. 

Can we stop to feel the impact of this day? So often we wish to rush from Good Friday to Easter Sunday without the mourning that is necessary in between. We will triumphantly declare with the Psalmist that darkness gives way to morning’s joy, but the sadness, sorrow, and weeping of the night are a reality that remains.

Question

Black Saturday is an appropriate time for personal reflection and confession of the ways in which our abandonment of God put Jesus in Joseph’s tomb. Take a moment to reflect on how that day may have felt for those who had entrusted themselves to Jesus. How does it feel for you? 

Prayer

O God, many of us know loss all too well. We understand what it is like to lose someone dear to us and to not have them near anymore. And all of us are aware of what it feels like to lose hope in someone or something. It is a loss of a different kind, but one that brings with it a measure of grief and sorrow. May we know that your death brought both a loss of relationship and a loss of hope to your followers and it stung like nothing else can sting. Make us aware of our culpability in putting you on that cross and in that tomb. And hold us tightly in this night of darkness until we awake in the joyful news of the morning. Amen. 

The Art

The art in our title image is a detail of The Entombment of Christ, painted between 1601–1604 by Caravaggio (1571–1610). To see the entire image or download, see Wikimedia Commons.

<i>The Entombment of Christ</i> by Caravaggio (1571-1610).

TPW's Holy Week Meditation Series

Join us this Holy Week as Scott Bullock leads us through thoughtful meditations every day, perfect for busy pastors (and others!) seeking a moment of calm and to focus on our Lord. A new meditation will be posted on the TPW blog every day—and if you wish, you can download a copy of the whole series below.

Scott Bullock is a Board Member and Contributor with The Pastors Workshop. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served churches in Illinois, New Jersey, and California. He holds an MA in New Testament Studies from Wheaton College, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a ThM in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. Scott is married with three teen-aged children.

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