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What About Holy Saturday?


Essentially, Christ is spending this Holy Saturday overcoming death, literally sojourning among the dead, to bring victory over death and all its implications, for us and on our behalf.


(Much of this material is gleaned from Ted Johnston from his Surprising God blog.)


Even as we know and rejoice about the Resurrection that we celebrate on Sunday, on Holy Saturday we reflect on the same Jesus that lies behind the stone.  Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, and he was “dead” until being resurrected on Sunday. But there is great meaning to Holy Saturday from his time in the tomb on Friday evening, all day Saturday, and into Sunday. 


These words are from the Apostle's Creed, which declares that Jesus, having died, "descended into Hell" or “into the realm of death" as reflected in Revelation 1:17b-18, where Christ declares “I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the key of Death and Hades." Theologian Garrett Dawson writes: "On Friday, Christ went down to the house of death, seemingly its captive. But on Sunday he came back with its keys! In between, Jesus took ownership of death.”


Ted Johnston writes, “rather than being a victim of death, Jesus was victor over death.”  Dawson comments that “there is an important reason that Jesus was not resurrected immediately after dying on the cross.  His prolonged time in Hades was vital for our salvation.”  Dawson leaves us with three main points:


  1. The death of Jesus was real.  (Hebrews 2:9- “he might taste death for everyone”)

  2. His death was the last in a series of “descents’ into our human condition (“faithfully and lovingly as one of us”-Dawson)

  3. His death was the turn toward victory.  (“From descending for us to raising with us”-Dawson)


(Garitt Dawson’s book is Raising Adam: Why Jesus Descended Into Hell.)

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