“But why is it called Good Friday? If he died? They didn’t know he was coming back, right?”
This is what my 5year old asked me this week as we were talking about the upcoming weekend and what the different days it included. I told her it was called “Good Friday” because the Sunday after was the day Jesus resurrected, so it was a good thing for us that he died. She still looked puzzled but went on and said, “Well, what is Saturday?”
I paused and thought about it. What was Saturday? Friday was full of terror and pain and injustice and weeping at the cross. Sunday was full of shock and joy and grace and incomprehensible happiness at the empty tomb and upper room. But Saturday?
I imagine Saturday was dark and heavy and full of grief. Creation itself dampened and dulled.
Mary, waking with a cry in the night with swollen eyes and a broken heart, the image of her precious baby boy crying out on the cross, forever seared into her mind.
Jesus’ disciples, feeling the weight of their dear friend’s absence as they opened their eyes and shamefully remembered their scattering of the day before – feeling lost and alone without their Shepherd.
The women, gathering to cry and make logistical preparations to pay Jesus’ body respect the next day.
Jairus, and his very much alive daughter that Jesus had reached down into death to pull back into life– eating breakfast quietly together as tears silently slid down their faces.
The leper, surrounded by family and friends, because Jesus had crossed religious and cultural barriers to touch and heal him– weeping openly that his healer had been crucified.
The old lady who had been brave and full of faith to reach out her hand and touch Jesus’ cloak – given extra years of life – sitting in her house, staring out the window, unconsciously caressing her wrinkled cheek with her fingers, remembering the feel of the material and the piercing gaze of eyes blazing with love and compassion.
And the tomb. Full. Full of Jesus’ body while he experienced utter separation from his Father as he spent the day buried beneath the weight of human kind’s sin and sadness – cut off from Love.
Cut off from Love because of his great love – for us.
As we go about our Saturday sandwiched between somber Good Friday services and bright Easter Sunday services – let us not rush past the grief of Saturday.
And as we go about our lives, sandwiched between our births onto this Earth and the bright joyful Eternity – let us not rush past the grief and pain and other feelings that come from living this human life.
Because there is room, in this ultimate story of hope, for grief. In fact, deep sorrowful grief is built into this very story of hopeful joy.
So, there is room in our stories for it as well. In fact, our stories of grace and hope and joy have grief and sadness and disappointment built into them as well. It is what it means to be human.
We are not meant to sweep our feelings aside, much like Children’s Bible books sweep past Sad Saturday, just because “this is not our home.” Jesus makes it so very clear in his life, and in his death, that when bad things happen in this fleeting life? It is ok and healthy to feel them and be sad. Jesus WEPT when his friend Lazarus died, even though he, himself was about to raise him from the dead! And God could have resurrected Jesus 5 minutes after he died and took the weight of our sins. But he didn’t. He let Saturday happen.
You see. Saturday’s deep pain and grief? It did not cheapen the joy of the resurrection on Sunday. Absolutely, not.
In fact, the grief of Saturday amplified the joy of Sunday’s resurrection.
Just as the moments of suffering and grief in this human life we’ve been granted will amplify the joy of the Eternal Sunday we’ve been promised.
So yes. Sunday is coming. But remember – Saturday happened too.