The foundation of the Gospel of Christ, summarized is thus: “Jesus died for our sins, in accordance to the scriptures, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day, in accordance to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Jesus was crucified on a Friday, the Passover, and was buried that evening. He was in the tomb all day Saturday, and then, with the coming of Sunday morning, He rose from the dead. Friday was a day of pain and suffering, Sunday was a day of joy and life. Saturday though, was a day of waiting, uncertainty and doubt. Saturday was perhaps, the hardest day.
Jesus said, concerning His own death, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) And He prophesied concerning Himself, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22; ESV)
There was a prediction of suffering, and a prediction concerning His resurrection. There was also a prediction of a wait. Before the joy, before the final fulfillment of the promises of the prophets, there was a moment of waiting.
The disciples of Jesus, shaken by the death of their teacher and Lord, having witnessed His arrest, trials and crucifixion, had to spend the entirety of the day in sadness and despair. Though they had heard the promises, they are shown in the Gospels to have not understood those promises, and their entire world, for a whole day was upside down and devoid of the presence of that one soul that had been their rock and their hope. Saturday was the day where faith would have been the hardest to come by.
Yet, it is the Saturday faith, the waiting faith that is perhaps most precious, and most necessary in life. Certainly, we need the faith that Christ had on Friday during those moments of trials, when there is pain and suffering, but we should not overlook the very real fact that waiting is a trial all of its own; a trial which produces ennui and doubt.
Yet, if one can have faith, with patience, waiting and working according to the promises of God, God never fails to disappoint. After Saturday comes Sunday morning. After the waiting comes the fulfillment. After the tomb comes the resurrection.
Peter writes of our own “day” of waiting, and the doubt of skeptics during the moment between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise. He says, “you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:2-4; ESV)
Just as Jesus promised He would rise from the dead, so too, He promised that, having ascended to the Father, He would return for His followers, and that they would join Him in the resurrection, and in eternal life. (cf. John 14:1-4) Concerning this day, Jesus urged His followers not to lose heart, but to be caught prepared when the moment came. (cf. Matthew 24:44) We are urged, because of the certainty of the promise, to be “diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14b; ESV)
Sunday is a day of evidence, but Saturday is a day of hope. It’s easy to believe when the promise is fulfilled. The test is trusting in God when those around you are scoffing, suggesting that the promise will never be fulfilled. The test is continuing to be obedient as you wait for the promise.
If you would like to learn more about the promises of Christ, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.