Holy Saturday – “Fight Like Jesus” review

  • Read the overview of the book “Fight Like Jesus” by Jason Porterfield here.
  • Read about Palm Sunday here.
  • Read about Holy Monday here.
  • Read about Holy Tuesday here.
  • Read about Holy Wednesday here.
  • Read about Maundy Thursday here.
  • Read about Good Friday here.

Holy Saturday is often seen as “nothing much happens on this day.” Except it’s not. Not according to the creeds which tell us that Jesus descends into Hell to end the reign of sin and death. Nothing like defeating a foe on their own turf. There are those that believe that Jesus also goes to Hell in order to free the souls trapped there from the beginning of time.

Porterfield reminds us that “the gospel writers say very little about Saturday of Holy Week. Matthew reports that the chief priests and Pharisees petitioned Pilate to place a guard at Jesus’ tomb (27:62-66). And Luke briefly states that after making preparations on Friday evening for Jesus’ burial, the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee rested on Saturday since it was the Sabbath (23:56). That’s it.” (pg. 167).

And so Porterfield proceeds to give us a sense of what the disciples were feeling. Maybe they felt fooled. After all, Jesus wasn’t the first person to claim the title of Messiah. Porterfield gives us a nice list of people who came before Jesus claiming the title – Simon of Perea, Athronges, Judas the son of Hezekiah, and Judas the Galilean. They all has some level of success. And they all ended up dead at the hands of Rome. It was just a matter of how long it took.

Given that, it doesn’t take much imagination to get a sense of what the disciples and Jesus’ followers were feeling.

Which leads to Porterfield’s lesson for Holy Saturday – Christlike peacemakers endure the darkest of days, trusting that God is at work even when God appears absent.

“For you see, when you contend for peace in places where it is painfully absent, most days feel like Holy Saturday: silent, confusing hopeless.” (pg. 170).

Having working with those experiencing poverty and homelessness for several years now, I can tell you that it often feels like Holy Saturday. All too often the people we work with and walk along side feel hopeless – they’ve been struggling for a long time, just to survive. When I’ve asked people to describe what it’s like, they have trouble giving it a good description. It’s like a dam breaking just as you reaching the shore – it sucks you back in. I’ve described many people’s situation as a black hole – it feels impossible to break free of the gravitational pull of poverty and homelessness. Just as soon as you start getting a way out, something hits you hard and throws you back into the gravitational pull. You get a lead on a place to live, and then your car breaks down. Or you get sick. Or you can’t pay a bill. Or you run out of money. Or there’s an unexpected bill. Or…

These people live in what feels like a permanent Holy Saturday. They don’t know if Easter will come. Or what it will look like. Those experiencing poverty and homelessness know what the disciples and women who followed Jesus were feeling.

And this is why Jesus’ words are Good News to the poor. They need Good News. And they are open to hearing it and experiencing it.

Too many Christians take Easter for granted, when they should spend time in Holy Saturday. Yay! Resurrection! But do we really grasp it? One of the reasons I love all the services of Holy Week is because they take us into the depths – betrayal, violence, abuse, and death. It’s only in hearing these things that we can truly begin to grasp the joy of resurrection – Jesus overcoming sin and death. Without death, there is no resurrection, or appreciation of it. It’s just another Sunday.

My friends who are experiencing poverty and homelessness know the story of Holy Week, even if they can’t recite a single word of it. They know it because they are living it. They know what the women and disciples were feeling and going through. They have been living in Holy Saturday for a long time.

And they wait for Easter – wait for Jesus to rise. Wait for Jesus to descend to Hell where they are living, and for him to grab them by the arm and pull them out. They know about abuse, betrayal, violence, and death. It’s the normal part of their lives.

But Easter is coming! And it is Good News! Boy, do we need Good News.

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