Good Friday and Easter Sunday get all the press, but there are other important days of Holy Week.
What is a “maundy” anyway? It comes from the Middle English and Old French word Mandé, which comes from the Latin Mandatum – which means Mandate.
Maundy Thursday refers to the mandate that Jesus gave the night before his crucifixion, when he shared his last supper with his disciples. After Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet in an act of love and service, he then told them:
A new commandment (Latin: mandatum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
On Maundy Thursday we remember the events of the last supper, the institution of the sacrament of communion, the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, and the all night prayer vigil that Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he sweat blood from the stress and anxiety he was experiencing as he looked forward to the physical and spiritual suffering that awaited him.
It was on this night that Jesus prayed three times: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39-44)
The fact that the Father did not remove this “cup” of suffering from Jesus reminds us that there was no other way for us to be saved, then for Jesus to go forward with taking our place in death and judgment so that we might be able to receive forgiveness and eternal life.
The day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is known as Holy Saturday. For the disciples of Jesus this would have been a day a great darkness and uncertainty, when the effects of Jesus’ crucifixion were not yet understood by all, and even though it wasn’t the case – it seemed like all hope was lost. Little did they realize that Sunday was coming…
Max Lucado wrote an excellent post on “The Silence of Saturday” a few years ago:
Jesus is silent on Saturday. The women have anointed his body and placed it in Joseph’s tomb. The cadaver of Christ is as mute as the stone which guards it. He spoke much on Friday. He will liberate the slaves of death on Sunday. But on Saturday, Jesus is silent.
So is God. He made himself heard on Friday. He tore the curtains of the temple, opened the graves of the dead, rocked the earth, blocked the sun of the sky, and sacrificed the Son of Heaven. Earth heard much of God on Friday.
Nothing on Saturday. Jesus is silent. God is silent. Saturday is silent.
Easter weekend discussions tend to skip Saturday. Friday and Sunday get the press. The crucifixion and resurrection command our thoughts. But don’t ignore Saturday. You have them, too.
Silent Saturdays. The day between the struggle and the solution; the question and the answer; the offered prayer and the answer thereof.
Saturday’s silence torments us. Is God angry? Did I disappoint him? God knows Jesus is in the tomb, why doesn’t He do something? Or, in your case God knows your career is in the tank, your finances are in the pit, your marriage is in a mess. Why doesn’t He act? What are you supposed to do until He does?
You do what Jesus did. Lie still. Stay silent. Trust God. Jesus died with this conviction: “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Acts 2:27 NIV).
Jesus knew God would not leave him alone in the grave. You need to know, God will not leave you alone with your struggles. His silence is not his absence, inactivity is never apathy. Saturdays have their purpose. They let us feel the full force of God’s strength. Had God raised Jesus fifteen minutes after the death of His son, would we have appreciated the act? Were He to solve your problems the second they appear, would you appreciate His strength?
For His reasons, God inserts a Saturday between our Fridays and Sundays. If today is one for you, be patient. As one who endured the silent Saturday wrote: “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7 NKJV).