for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. [2 corinthians 8:8]
good friday is a dark day we remember the death of Jesus that consumed our guilt and shame. we remember the cost, that “he became poor.”
the perfect Son of God, full of holiness and glory, stepped out of heaven and into this broken sin-full earth. he, who knew know sin [2 cor 5:21], he “who was rich” took on our guilt, our shame, every sin we will ever do and every sin done to us. he who only knew perfect holiness – took on the poverty of guilt, shame, and sin. sit in that for a moment. Jesus became like us as he bore the weight of what we feel every day in our guilt, shame, and sin. that was friday, “good friday” as we call it, the irony of all ironies. but then came saturday.
many in the traditional church call this “holy saturday” because this week is known as “holy week”. not as memorable a name, but o, still a memorable day! have you ever thought what happen on that saturday for the holy Son of God? his body died on friday and, he was quickly buried so they could get him in the tomb before the jewish sabbath started on friday at sundown. “there in the ground, his body lay, light of the world by darkness slain.” (great lyrics – “in Christ alone) but, what did Jesus do on that saturday?
here is quote from john piper on this issue:
“through the centuries, many questions have arisen about what Jesus experienced in sheol/hades. was he in “paradise” (Luke 23:43), a blissful state considered by some in Jesus’s day to be a part of Sheol, known also as Abraham’s bosom (Luke 19:22)? was he actively tormented as if he were in hell? was he proclaiming his triumph to the spirits of the dead and even angelic beings held “below”? these are great questions. pursuing answers can lead us to healthy considerations of Jesus’s person and work, but also into controversy. yet we need not have our speculations figured out to experience the biblical value of holy saturday.”
what did he do? what did God the Father and God the Spirit do?
from all we can see biblically, they waited. they stopped. they ceased. they rested from all work they had been doing to redeem hopeless sinners, redeem creation, and conquer evil. they sabbathed – on this sabbath.
truly, God the Father and God the Spirit and God the Son were resting in the work they had just completed through Christ that would forever let you and i rest differently.
they were rich. God the Father, Son, and Spirit had only known perfect joy and love for eternity. yet, they became poor. as Jesus was punished for our sin, this perfect joy and peace was interrupted. for a moment, they tasted the brokenness of this world. make no mistake, this was a work of the whole triune God (Father, Spirit, and Son). Jesus bore the physical brunt, but God the Father and Spirit also suffered as their perfect joy and peace was momentarily shattered. and, they suffered this poverty so you and i could become rich. in their work of redemption, we receive the riches of their perfect joy and love for eternity. we are brought into eternal union with God that gives us these riches.
now, this side of the cross, we rest, we sabbath in a whole new way. we rest in the person and work of Jesus. we stop working and rest in Jesus so we can remember we can only find joy and love in his work. we stop working so we can taste his love and joy – through his work.
today, stop working for joy. stop striving for love and rest in the one who gave us perfect joy and love in his perfect all-consuming work. how? let’s remind ourselves of what the Father has provided for us, through his Spirit, because of what Jesus has done. i will get us started.
we have his presence, his complete forgiveness, his full acceptance, his perfect unconditional love, his joy that is beyond circumstances, and his peace that passes all understanding. we have a new family, a new heart, a new mind, a new hope, new motivations and so much more. start there and keep going. remember and rest in the riches of his perfect joy and love today provided by Christ’s perfect work! [eph 1:3-22]
Lord, hear our cry. we search for love, perfect love and yet we never quite taste what we long for. we long for joy in what we do and what we have, but it never satisfies. forgive us for striving, for believing our efforts will give us what only you are and only what you can give. today, help us rest in your work and in so doing – let us taste and see that you alone are our perfect joy and our perfect love. in Jesus’ name – amen!
~ john ryan