A Reflection on Holy Saturday
Within Christianity there is a tendency, when it comes to reflecting on the events that occurred during “Holy Week”, to come to Good Friday and commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross and then to fast-forward ourselves and our thinking from His death to celebrating His resurrection on the following Sunday. Somehow the day in between, Holy Saturday, is often forgotten in this process. To many, Holy Saturday is just the day before Easter but as Cones puts it ‘there’s no Easter Sunday without Holy Saturday’ (Cones, 2006:50). In more recent times there has been a bit of a revival in thought over this day. There are people who are thinking about and reflecting upon the experience of Holy Saturday. They have attempted to find meaning and relevancy for this day which is so often overlooked by many. This paper will look at the most common reflections of Holy Saturday and will assess and critique these reflections.
Reflections on Holy Saturday
Basically, there seems to be two lines of thinking when it comes to reflection on Holy Saturday. On the one hand, there are those who reflect on the work and victory of Jesus Christ in His death and burial on that day in-between His death and resurrection, focusing on His descent to Hades. On the other hand, there are those who have reflected on the waiting period in-between His death and resurrection, focusing on the silence of Christ in this period of time. To these reflections we will now look.
Reflections upon a Victorious Christ
This line of thought in Holy Saturday reflections comes out of these key verses (emphases added):
Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. (Ps. 16:10)
This is why it says: “When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.) (Eph. 4:8-10)
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit. In that state He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – to those disobedient to long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah... (1 Pet. 3:18-19)
But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regards to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (1 Pet. 4:5-6)
If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Rom. 14:8-9)
These are key verses for those who hold this line of thought because it is based on the belief that Jesus descended to Hades and “did work” there. This is important because, for them, it reflects both Jesus’ humanity and His divinity. ‘In descending to Hades, Christ completed His identification with us as humans’ (Crull, n.d.:n.p.). It is apparent that the belief that every human went to Hades before that time is present in this line of reflection. This showed that Jesus went through everything that a human went through and proved His humanness. However, His descent also showed His divinity. Christ did a unique work upon descent to Hades, proclaiming to the imprisoned...
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