This is my favourite representation of Easter Saturday – if favourite is the word. It is Jesus’ dead body. And he is certainly dead. In Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot, sees a copy of Holbein’s picture “Looking at that painting,” he says, “might make one lose one’s faith.”
Easter Saturday is such an important day, but people move on so quickly to the jollity of Easter Sunday. (Obviously – who wouldn’t?) Yet this is the day when the candles had been snuffled out with no sign of them ever being lit again. So I am once again pointing to something I have written before. This is the lost day, the gap, the day of faith for tomorrow. I think it is something that we have all experienced – because Christianity is a religion for grown-ups. Something had been taken apart with no pointers as to how or if it would ever be put back together again. You might feel like that now. Easter Saturday is a hint, a whisper of a God waiting and working. Please feel free to have a read…
So today was the day before the big day. We know that now, so it’s easy to be all full of faith about the promise now. Because we are here all these years later and we know it happened. Harder I think for the followers of Jesus at the time. There were perhaps a few prophecies – half remembered – about the temple or Jesus returning. But all they had for the moment were nightmares about what they had seen yesterday and a dead body. And, because of the brutal times in which they lived, they were quite aware of what a dead body looked like, thank you very much. This man was most definitely dead – none of this swooning nonsense that some people waffle about. He has been tortured and killed. No one could deny that.
And the day lasted just as long as every other day. No clues, no encouragement, just tears and bewilderment. What was that all about then? So they made some arrangements, perhaps to get together and pray. A bit half hearted maybe and not everyone would be there. Peter seemed to have gone back to his old life. Mary Magdalene and some of the other women made arrangements to go and embalm the body – not check if he had risen by the way – look after his dead body. They would meet early in the morning, as soon as sabbath was over.
And all the time, while the tiniest grains of faith were still binding them as friends, nudging them to pray and to stand their ground in their everyday lives, the miracle was approaching. As each minute passed it was getting nearer and nearer. No warning, no signs but it was on its way.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb.