Holy Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath before Easter, and a day to be observed during Holy week. Holy Saturday is the time period between Good Friday – Jesus’ crucifixion – and Easter Sunday – the resurrection of Jesus. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with the glorious celebration of Easter Sunday. On Palm Sunday in the Bible, people lined the streets shouting the praises of Jesus as He rode in on a donkey (John 12:13). Maundy Thursday is the next observed day, followed by Good Friday.
Fast Facts on Holy Saturday:
Generally observed by the Catholic Church, Holy Saturday is a 40-hour vigil between Good Friday and Easter Sunday
Just as the family and friends of Jesus spend Saturday waiting and praying, we too can use Holy Saturday as a day of meditation and reflection
Holy Saturday is the end of Lent and fasting
What Is Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday is referred to in each Gospel, but Luke gives a glimpse into the law behind this specific day. Luke 23:55 shares, “As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.”
Saturday in Jewish tradition is the Sabbath, so it was against the law of the land for the women to place the oils and spices they had prepared for the body. This timing is no coincidence, for after the Sabbath is over at the dawn of Sunday they attempt to go and honor the body again, and it is then in Luke 24 that the glorious miracle is revealed that indeed Jesus was true to His word to rise again.
Each Gospel account is very similar in the account of what occurred between the death of Christ and His resurrection. Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19 each share in describing that a man by the name of Joseph made provisions for Jesus’s body to be laid in a new tomb and Mary Magdalene and the other Mary intended to assist in preparing the body with spices and oils. The women ran out of time before it was officially the Sabbath, so the anointing of the body would have to wait until Sunday morning. One would imagine that the hours between arriving at the tomb must have been filled with tears of sorrow, yet glimmers of hope that indeed He would do as He said on Sunday.
How Should Christians Observe Holy Saturday?
The day preceding the miracle is yes, a Sabbath, a day to rest, but it is also a day to be still. Exodus 20:8 is the original verse explaining to God’s people how to observe this law, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.” The act of keeping something Holy is to keep it set aside or reserved for a purpose, and this specific day is meant to rest in dedication to the Lord. On Holy Saturday Christians today can take this a step further in resting or abiding in what the Lord is doing today.
Just as Jesus’ followers waited the tedious hours of that Saturday to see what would occur Sunday, so we wait to see the hand of the Lord in our own lives. The prayers that are yet to be answered and the hopes left lingering still can all be placed at the throne of God as we rest and abide in His presence. Exodus 14:14 shared to, “be still and wait for the Lord” as the Israelites stood at the banks of the Red Sea waiting for the Lord to act, and so in that they yielded their fears, their worries, and their own actions to the Father for movement. When it was time to move, the Lord made it clear to them, but there came a time of trusting in being still before He revealed what was next.