This week I concluded Youversion‘s Lent devotional (actually it finishes tomorrow!).  It was a great refresher to read through different old and new testament passages proclaiming the events that would unfold and change the course of history forever.  To think that before the dawn of time, God knew about all the things that would take place (the good, the bad, the ugly)…and still He followed through with His plan of salvation through His son Jesus Christ.  It still boggles my finite, human mind!

Like many of you reading this, most everyone on the planet looks forward to the weekend…I mean it’s what we work so hard for during the week…right?  Occasionally though we run into a weekend we’d rather forget (relationship breakdown, major house repairs, tragedy, job loss, stolen car, conflict with neighbor, watching the Leafs play).  I’ve had a few weekends I wished never came around, but growing up (age 16 on) there was always Sunday.  It was the day we came together to celebrate, worship and praise as one body of believers (and those visiting who were trying to figure out what the heck was going on!).  There was (and still is) something about coming to church, together with a common purpose, with a bunch of people who all have their own issues, burdens and quirks…yet found peace, joy and comfort in the presence of each other, and the Lord.  I’d go back to work on Mondays and recount the ‘weekend from hell’ events…and then go on…”But then there was Sunday.”  I’d share the amazing peace and hope I found in that one day, and although some things were still a mess and needed fixing, Sunday helped bring it all into perspective by hearing God’s word (or “chewing on it” as I like to say!).

I can only imagine what Jesus’ disciples were feeling on the weekend of His betrayal, arrest, death sentence, crucifixion, and burial.  For a 1st century follower of Christ, I’m not sure you could have a worse start to the weekend than the events that took place.  This was not supposed to be how things panned out.  The 12 disciples didn’t sign up for this kind of end result…at least as they currently saw things unfolding.  They dropped everything to follow Jesus and His revolutionary cause to bring freedom to Israel and re-establish the nation as a top dog among the pack.  Those rag-tag bunch of 1st century disciples were thinking about independence from Roman occupation, financial prosperity, positions of authority and prominence in a new government leadership regime.  No one signed up for persecution, mockery…and none of them could fathom their leader being set-up for a mock trial and sentenced to the worst, most humiliating death imaginable. What started out as a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, quickly soured and left the remaining disciples, Jesus’ closest friends, grieving, heart-struck and running for their lives.  Where hope and anticipation were once the main ingredients of the disciples expectations, were now smeared with grief, despair, pain and remorse.  Needless to say…things weren’t looking awesome!  If only they knew what we know today…that Sunday was coming and everything would be set in motion for victory, power and freedom in a way that would blow their minds.  But for now…they were still living in Saturday, without the foresight of Sunday.

As Christians, we’ve all had those times of despair along the road of following Jesus.  We’ve encountered loss, hurt, miscalculations and expectations, abandonment from those we thought we could trust.  When we first came into relationship and faith in Christ we were filled with zeal, bravado and passion.  But then we got smacked in the face with a ‘weekend’ experience and went through a season of doubt, anxiety, anger, misunderstanding…maybe you’re still in that place.  Maybe you’ve had thoughts similar to mine; “wasn’t following Jesus supposed to mean peace, hope, victory, freedom, power?  Things seem to be worse off now then they were before I joined this crazy team.  I didn’t sign up for this!”  Or maybe you’ve questioned God about His methods “Am I being punished for something?  Am I not good enough?“, His purpose “How on earth is God supposed to bring a testimony out of this?, or even if God existed at all “IF God was real…would he really allow me to go through this?  I’ve been battling my own ‘Saturday’ experience for the past 18 months wondering why life has unfolded the way it has, and struggling through my own questions.  Sometimes we (I) feel like the father in Mark 9…”Lord I believe, but help me with my unbelief!” Although there has been much growth and learning during these times, like the disciples had felt during their ‘Saturday’, it can feel as if hope has slipped away.  But Sunday’s coming!

As Steve Thomason so eloquently and transparently reflects on his own perspective of ‘Saturday‘;

I have to think that the disciples had similar feelings on that dark Saturday. It seemed as if all hope was gone. We feel this way because we forget an important truth. The way of Jesus is a way of pain, grief, and sorrow…But Jesus told us it would be this way. In John’s account of Jesus’ final teaching Jesus said that God would prune the branches that clung to the Vine (John 15:1-17). Pruning hurts. To have large parts of your life severed from you is not a pleasant experience. There is no joy in the sensation of shears cutting into your flesh. Yet, as the Great Gardener knows, without pruning there is no life.”

As I continue to walk my way through this ‘Saturday’ season (with the grace and help of Holy Spirit), my hope is made complete in knowing that His power is made perfect in my weakness.  How I wish we could go back in time and let the disciples in on the resurrection story…that their worst weekend ever was about to be the most epic one yet!  Good Friday is often met with mixed emotion…dealing with the darkness of Friday, even though we have the benefit of knowing about Sunday.  Even today, my 8-year-old daughter asked me; “dad, why do we call it ‘Good Friday’ if Jesus had all those bad things happen to him and died…it doesn’t seem so good?”  As best as I could I explained the passion narrative, and the fact that “Friday was good because it started the ball rolling for the work and glory of God to be made known on Sunday…that’s when He really kicked the devil’s butt and took the keys away and restored our relationship with God!

Fortunately for the disciples…and the human race, Saturday didn’t last too long.  All the fear, grief, doubt and pain got a super-sized dose of hope, power and reality on resurrection Sunday.  When we meet hope face-to-face, in Jesus Christ, we can take comfort and peace knowing that with every Saturday…Sunday is coming!  It may take a week, a month, a year…and our definition of victory and ‘Sunday‘ may look different from God’s.  But His plans and ways are way better than what we could ever think or imagine…we just need to remain faithful, obedient and to trust in Him who is able!

One word of caution though, let us not get wrapped up in thinking that the resurrection was about God solving our problems and getting us though tough times.  His glory, power and grace are certainly on display in our circumstances as we trust in Him…and He did solve our greatest problem…our sin and our consequence of that.  But when we make the cross out to be a glorified prosperity story whose main goal is to give us a better and easier life, we cheapen the real purpose, power and significance of just why Jesus died on the cross, and what it means for us all.

Let’s make sure we take time this weekend to reflect on the sacrifice our Savior made for us, and to celebrate His victory over sin and death. But also take time, especially those living in a ‘Saturday‘ season, to embrace the love of our Father God and to know that He only allows us to grow through the pain of refining because He has a much bigger plan and victory waiting for us on the other side.  It may sip now…but Sunday’s coming!

…without Saturday we don’t get to Sunday. The love of Jesus is our hope for today and forever. We will grieve, but we can grieve with hope.” ~Steve Thomason~

For a great mini-message on the Easter perspective, check out Ray Hollenbach‘s Good Friday: 4 Preaching Points to Remember.  And for those skeptical of the whole resurrection story, give this article a peek, Why Should I Believe in Christ’s Resurrection?

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