Earlier this week I was talking to one of my managers at work about the passion of Christ, filling in some of the blanks she had about the events that took place – and then she asked me “what happened on Saturday?”. This got me thinking about how little is generally known about Holy Saturday, not only among non-Christians but fellow followers of Christ as well.
Everyone knows the story of Good Friday; from the pressuring of Pilate by the Pharisees, Jesus’ long walk to Golgotha, his prayers of forgiveness for his executioners as he was being crucified to his eventual death on the Cross. We are used to re-living this horrific account of Christ’s passion every Good Friday at the Stations of the Cross service. What do we do then? Go home, relax, eat a hot cross bun and wait for Christ to rise on Sunday – for most of us (myself included) this is our routine for Holy Saturday, we don’t give much consideration for the spiritual battle that Jesus was waging on our behalf as his corpse laid in the tomb.
Holy Saturday is otherwise known as the Harrowing of Hell; when Jesus entered Hell to deliver salvation to those who were faithful to God but died before the Resurrection – the prophets of the Old Testament for example. This was vital, not only because if Jesus (as he said) was the only way to the Father, then how could these pre-resurrection figures receive new life – but also it cemented Jesus’ victory over death.
There is an icon depicting the Harrowing of Hell which I particularly like, it has Christ descending into Hell and raising a man and a woman out of two the graves. The individuals; Adam and Eve. Many of us will be familiar with the image of the Cross as the bridge, closing the great divide between man and God. A divide that started with Adam and Eve – for Jesus’ victory to be complete salvation through Jesus Christ had to apply to all; past, present and future.
Holy Saturday is a crucial part of the Easter story, and should be overlooked. It reminds that in God all things are possible and how through Jesus Christ salvation is there for everyone – Jesus is the Messiah, the way, the truth and the life. So while yes, today can be seen as sorrowful because Jesus is in the tomb, it is also a joyful day when we can celebrate Christ’s victory.