Category Archives: Lent

What is Holy Saturday?

The Passion Week provides diverse theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. The royal procession illicit shouts of benediction, but concludes only a few days later with shouts of crucifixion as the king is hung on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah provides a new commandment to love one another just as He loved us. The newness of the commandments is not an indication that love was not revealed prior (Lev. 19), but that love is now incarnate in the person of love, Jesus Christ. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the offensive words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount, his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death (Phil. 2)But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days before his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work as the unblemished offering of love was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly, Holy Saturday. On this day, our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that the darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son were only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

The Victory of Lent in One Paragraph: A Violent Scene

The reason Lent is so important for us is because through death he (Messiah) destroyed the one who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14). What we witness in this Lenten Season is the re-capitulation of the blow Satan received at the cross. The cross of death was turned into a sword of life, and the old serpent received a paralyzing blow. In fact, what we witness in our day is the continuous bleeding of the serpent. The promise of the curse in Genesis 3, is the promise that at the death of our Lord—fulfilled many centuries later– we will witness by the success of the gospel the utter humiliation of the devil.  At the last day, the introduction of the New Heavens and New Earth, our blessed Lord–the Seed of the Woman– will provide a public display of the decapitation of the evil serpent and his demons who will suffer the final blow and  be sent forever into the endless pit of doom.

What must we fight?

What must we fight in this Lenten Season? What is it that so deeply entangles us? What sin is it that needs to be confessed? What role does prayer and biblical wisdom play in those things you long for? Have your desires been so conditioned by the world that they have become worldly desires? There is nothing inherently wrong in possessing things; but there is something wrong when your desires for possessing things are void of godly patience. The devil’s game is to persuade you that kingship comes without the cross, but Jesus offers the better way. He endured temptations, so that we would be strengthened to endure temptations.

In this season of Lent, resist the devil by trusting that God’s gifts and promises are yes and amen, and that His timing is better than any offer Satan can ever make.

Bring Out the Champagne! The Party Has Just Begun!

Easter is gone, right? Actually Easter has just begun! The Easter Season lasts for 50 days. It is glorified in the PENT-ecost season. According to the Christian Calendar, Easter lasts until May 19th (Pentecost Sunday). But didn’t we spend ourselves bodily and spiritually this past Lord’s Day? If that’s the case, stir yourselves unto good works. The party has just begun!

We–who are liturgically minded–tend to carefully attend to the Lenten and Advent Calendar, but yet we forget that apart from the Resurrection Lent and Advent would not make any sense. After all, what are we expecting? A virgin birth to a son who would simply die at the age of 33? What are we expecting? A perpetually closed tomb? A sight for annual pilgrimages to Israel?

I am suggesting we need to stock up in our champagne bottles. Every Sunday meal needs to start with the popping of a champagne bottle. “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! POP! “Children, that’s the sound of victory!”

For every day of Easter, set aside a little gift for your little ones or your spouse. We set 100 Easter eggs aside for our two oldest children and let them open them up each day. Other traditions can be added, of course. We indulge in Easter hymnody and Psalmnody.  Easter is no time to get back to business as usual, it’s time to elevate the party spirit.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for these next 46 days:

First, for evening family readings, meditate specifically on the Resurrection account and the post-resurrection accounts. Digest every detail of the gospels, and also allow St. Paul to add his resurrection theology in I Corinthians 15.

Second, teach one another the art of hope. We live in a hopeless culture. We walk around with little enthusiasm for what God is doing in our midst. We also don’t believe that God is changing us and conforming us to the image of His son. We need to–especially in this season–to rejoice more with those who rejoice and encourage more those who weep with the hope granted to us in the Resurrection of our Messiah.

Third, invest in changing your community. Ask your pastor in what ways can you be more fruitful in your service to the congregation. Consider also your neighbors. Do you know them? If you do, how many have been in your homes for a meal or a drink, or simply to talk?

Fourth, play Easter music in your home and in the office. Here are some selections of great CDs or MP3’s.

Finally, avoid the introspective rituals that are so prevalent in our Christian culture. Do not allow doubts to overtake you. Think of your Triune baptism. Trust in Christ fervently. Allow the Covenant of Grace to shape your identity. The resurrection of Jesus was the confirmation that those in Christ are made for glory. Look to Jesus and serve Jesus by serving others. By doing so, you will not grow weary in doing well, and you will learn to party beside the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen!

The Passion Week

“Jesus proceeded toward his holy passion to consummate the mystery of our salvation. The Word had come down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin. He marched to this destiny without flags and banners, without knives and swords…without the symbols of power people like to use to put others in awe and submission. Meekly, humbly, simply he rode an awkward animal to the site of his blessed passion.”[1]


[1] Alfred McBride, The Divine Presence of Jesus: Meditation and Commentary on the Gospel of John, 112

Riding on a Donkey

The Concordia Journal observes that John is using the donkey as key in this text.  The donkey pointed to the Passion Week. The donkey, though used as kingly transportation in the Solomonic days, was also a symbol of peace.

He was riding on a donkey to show just how he would defeat all our enemies.

Jesus does not come to war against His enemies with human weapons, but with humility and blood.

Exhortation: Walking Dead

The Lenten Season causes us to consider that not everything is made right; that relationships are broken; that restoration is difficult. We walk in truth, but we walk knowing that we have died in Christ. This means that we do not walk arrogantly; we do not walk expecting everything to go our way. We should walk expecting that only God’s way of doing things is the best way and that our only expectation is in the Christ who was crucified; our only hope is to walk as those who have died in Christ.

But though this Season offers us a sober look at who we are and how we are to walk, we must never forget that our deaths in Christ are followed by our being raised with Him. Though we do not walk boastfully, we walk hopeful that the Christ who died has begun to make all things right at His resurrection and will continue to right the wrongs of this world until it is all made new.

As Pastor Rich Lusk observes:

But having already died in Christ, we can approach our bodily death with hope, knowing that while death remains a foe, it is a defeated foe, and now serves our ultimate good. Death has defeated death, so, dying we live.

Let us Pray: O Lord, you have died for us and you have been raised for us. Strengthen us to pick up the cross and follow you while living as saints who have been delivered from death by our resurrection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.