“Man no longer lives in the beginning–he has lost the beginning. Now he finds he is in the middle, knowing neither the end nor the beginning, and yet knowing that he is in the middle, coming from the beginning and going towards the end. He sees that his life is determined by these two facets, of which he knows only that he does not know them” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Holy Saturday reminds us of the fact that we live as Bonhoeffer so eloquently put it “in the middle, knowing neither the end nor the beginning. The Gospel accounts are silent as to what was happening during this interregnum between the crucifixion and the resurrection except that the women prepared the body of Jesus for burial and that the tomb was sealed and a Roman guard detachment detailed to ensure that the tomb remained secure.
One has to use their imagination as to what was occurring in the lives of the characters in this story. We know that on the day of the crucifixion that after Jesus’ death that Joseph of Arimathea provided a tomb where Jesus’ body was prepared and in which he was laid. We know that the tomb was sealed and that Roman guards were at it as ordered by Pilate. We know that the disciples with the exception of John had abandoned Jesus and that following the crucifixion that they had scattered and went underground with the exception of Judas who was last seen hanging around. Most of Jerusalem was observing Passover between Friday evening and Saturday evening. Life for many went on without a second thought as Jesus was now yesterday’s news. The disciples wondered if they would be next, a mother mourned, members of the Sanhedrin likely were relaxing for the first time since Jesus entered Jerusalem as potential Messiah the previous Sunday while Roman soldiers far from home wondered just why they were guarding the tomb of a criminal.
We know from the reactions of the disciples the next day that they really believed that Jesus was not only dead but not coming back. There was a finality that they lived a grief that they bore. Their teacher the one that they had given up all to follow was dead executed as a criminal between common criminals and buried in a borrowed tomb. One of their friends that they had shared the previous three years had betrayed Jesus. Their world was upended; the one that they assumed to be the Messiah was mortal. Their faith was crushed.
The life of faith that we live in the interregnum between life and death creation and consummation is often similar to that the disciples experienced. We experience situations where faith is hard to come by and since we are in the uncomfortable middle nothing seems certain. Much of this comes when like the disciples we expect something from God or expect God to do something only to find that our expectations were perhaps just a bit different from those of the Deity. Disappointment with God I think one has called it and if we are honest it is a part of life because none of really know the will of God or even what will transpire tomorrow something that scripture is rather clear about.
We live in the middle every time we walk with Jesus and his followers through Holy Week just as we walk through life and Holy Saturday is in a sense a metaphor for life when we don’t understand it when we are in the middle wondering what transpired before and not knowing the future. It is a time to again seek out our faith and with our friends who share this life to maintain hope that things will work out, that in fact resurrection will come.
Until tomorrow we leave the disciples in hiding, the city sleeping and the Roman soldiers cold and bored at a tomb which in reality they care less about.