Holy Saturday

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As we complete another annual celebration and commemoration of Holy Week, we have studied the events in the life of our Lord on Palm Sunday, His teachings on Monday-Wednesday, the Last Supper – Lord’s Supper on Thursday, His Crucifixion on Good Friday, and His Resurrection on Sunday – but what happened on Holy Saturday?

While it should be obvious that the physical body of Christ rested in the tomb on the Passover Sabbath, the Bible tells us that His Spirit was very active. In Eph 4: 7-10, we are told that Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth” and then “led captivity captive” before He “ascended on high… far above all the heavens.”

In Luk 16, Jesus explains to us that in Old Testament times all people died and went to  “Sheol” or Hell or the Place of the Dead.  Sheol was divided into two parts – a part called paradise or “Abraham’s Bosom” for the righteous and a part where the unrighteous were tormented. In a way, everyone in Sheol was being held in captivity. The unrighteous were captives forever. The righteous were captive in sheol until The Christ made “The Way” for them to go to heaven – to the Holy Presence of God.  

Therefore, when Jesus told the thief on the cross “today you will be with Me in Paradise”, He was referring to the Paradise part of  Sheol in “the lower parts of the earth.”  And while Jesus was there, He “went and  preached to the spirits in prison” (1Pe 3:18-22).   He preached judgment to the unrighteous and He preached deliverance to the righteous before He led them “on high… far above all the heavens.”

To give people who were living on earth proof of what was going on in sheol, Mat 27:50 says “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”

At the Cross, Jesus was being the sacrificial Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. At the Cross, Jesus was being our High Priest who offered the sacrifice and made The Way for sinners to be saved and made Holy so they could pass through the veil into the Holy Kingdom of Heaven. 

So NOW, believers in Jesus Christ who die no longer have to go to sheol awaiting our resurrection. Instead our souls go directly to Heaven into the Presence of our Lord. As the Scriptures say in 2Cor 5:8 to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.”

On Holy Saturday while the body of Christ was resting in the tomb, His Spirit  was busy completing the “finished work of Christ” – making The Way for believers to go to Heaven.  Indeed, Jesus is  “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him].” (Joh 14:6)