Reflections on Lent | Holy Saturday | John 19.40-42 |      

by | Apr 16, 2022

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” John 19.40-42

“Holy Saturday is the place that sits between the old and the new; despair and hope; darkness and light. God remains in the tomb, but in a few hours will burst forth with so much life that death will have no recourse but to die.” (Rich Villodas from

Not much is said in Scripture about Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday and before Sunday morning. And what I mean by ”not much” implies nothing. Nothing was said about this Holy Saturday. We’ve been inundated with accounts on the final week of Jesus’ life. His Passion is recorded in all four Gospels. Details of his final meal, foot washing, arrest, trial and crucifixion are all accounted for. Even the last words of Jesus from the cross are recorded. But today, on Holy Saturday, there is not one word from Scripture.

Perhaps the Gospel writers could have taken us into the house of Simon Peter. Maybe we could catch a glimpse of his grief, his despair, his hopelessness. Or even the women, the ”Mary’s” who anointed his body in spices, who adored the Lord, who were considered among equals for the first time in their lives — maybe we could see what they were doing on this in between day.

But we have none of that. We don’t even have records of possible Roman or Jewish celebrations after quelling the ”rebellion” of this rogue Messiah and putting the ”trouble-maker” Jesus to death. Like I said, nothing is mentioned.

And I therefore must conclude that this is the point. The world has stopped, the earth has died, Hope has been sentenced to the grave. And their He lies, Son of God and Son of Man. He’s in rolling stone tomb, in a garden, not far from the Hill of the Skull. His followers who scattered might still be in hiding for fear of continued punishment for those who followed Jesus.

There’s a silence also because it is the Jewish Shabbat, the Sabbath, which is observed each week beginning at sunset on a Friday evening and concluding after dark on Saturday evening. I’ve been in Jerusalem on many of these Shabbats and the city shuts down. No car horns blaring, no engines roaring, no work or business to speak of. Only people walking, or resting, or remaining in their homes with family to rest from their weekly labors.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence, of solitude, of quiet, of rest, and even of grief. And so we wait. We reflect. We pray for his return.

The quiet, the stillness, the unmentioned Holy Saturday is consistent with this Sabbath as well. The two coinciding is no coincidence. God, who controls all, allowed the time for Jesus to be in the tomb to be a moment of reset, as Jesus was defeating death in Hell, we sit in silence awaiting his return.

“O Lord Jesus, on this Holy Saturday, when the world is mute, you are not absent. You are present in your power, preparing good things for those who trust you. Come now, Lord Jesus, spring forth in new life. Redeem the world. Overcome darkness. For you are my only hope. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen