Is today a Saturday like any other?
Perhaps your sport is on as usual, or you’re enjoying a longer weekend break.
Christians meet a lot over this weekend, you’ve probably heard of Good Friday and Easter Sunday - it’s hard to ignore a bank holiday!
Maybe you even know about the events in Jesus’ life that these days mark. But what about the Saturday in the middle? Was it a typical weekend day like the one you might be enjoying today?
Easter Saturday, as described in the Bible, is hugely significant. What’s more, the day Jesus stayed dead brings surprisingly good news for the sportsperson who faces agonising periods of waiting and uncertainty through injury, disappointment, and dissatisfaction, let’s explain why:
The key question to start with is: where is Jesus? In the Bible we read that yesterday He was brutally murdered on a Roman Cross, and (spoiler alert), tomorrow He will rise from the dead, so what is going on in between these two events? Why didn’t God the Father raise Jesus straight from the cross to life, why the gap in between?
Lots of this is a mystery but we can know some things for sure. One Christian publication describes ‘The Day Jesus Stayed Dead’ and it says:
“Holy Saturday tells us that Jesus entered death and stayed dead. The gap was long enough that he truly tasted death (Hebrews 2:9) and experienced the pangs of being in death’s grip (Acts 2:24). He fully entered the land from which no one returns. He undertook the great loneliness of death as part of his redeeming us. And his disciples experienced his death as if it were permanent.”
You see the point? Jesus definitely died, and not just for split second. To everyone around Him Jesus was dead and buried, gone forever, even his best friends, the disciples, were despondent, without hope.
Sport is often characterised by periods of waiting and uncertainty.
Professional sportspeople often have to work hard and patiently wait years for their shot at the top level or face agonising periods searching for a new contract after being released. Perhaps you’ve tasted this, missing training and competing while you’re injured, or enduring defeat after defeat when your team isn’t performing well.
This can be a lonely, desperate and isolating place to be.
And there isn’t really light at the end of the tunnel. Even for the highest achieving athlete, the most talented player, sport cannot deliver lasting hope or security.
No one can escape the reality that sport won’t last forever, in the same way that life will not last forever - we all must face the cruel reality of death.
The despair the disciples felt on Easter Saturday arose because of their perceived certainty of Jesus' permanent death. They were confused and devastated. The man they’d followed over the last three years was seemingly gone forever.
They had no hope.
We read they feared persecution, they ran and hid (John 20:19). They were despondent and felt the pain of grief.
But, we get to read the rest of the story, and it’s incredible.
Tomorrow we read:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Jesus doesn’t remain in the ground, the grave could not contain him. He rises triumphantly defeating sin and death, forever.
Psalm 139:8 says:
“If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
The word ‘depths’ here means the home of the dead, it’s about as far from God as you could imagine. But when we look at Easter Saturday, we see that Jesus truly visited this dark place.
We read it in the Psalm, and we see it in Jesus’ willingness to become obedient to death on a cross and to be buried in a tomb, for us.
Today if you despair because your sport is unfulfilling, if you face the reality of declining performance or injury, if you’ve realised that sport cannot deliver lasting satisfaction and you feel hopeless, why not take look at tomorrow and ask:“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
So the question to you, the sportsperson is this – where do you look for hope? If Jesus really did die for you and was raised to life then He is the one to look to. So, take time this Easter to reflect and consider this for yourself.
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