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The Silent Mystery of Saturday

easter theology Apr 08, 2023
Saturday after crucifixion is the day of mystery

The Saturday after the crucifixion is a day of mystery. It is a day of radio silence, without a single word recorded about it in the gospels. Jesus' body was placed hastily in a borrowed tomb. All we know for certain is that Jesus was dead. However, on the cross, he committed his spirit to the Father. So, what’s happening with Jesus’ spirit? Where is Jesus on Saturday? What, if anything, is he doing?

What Happened on Saturday?

We are entering the realm of the spirit world. We know nothing for certain about Saturday. However, God left us with a few potential clues.


1. Jesus’ spirit did not die with his body.

On the cross, Jesus told the thief – “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:4 ). And his last words were to hand his spirit over to the Father (Luke 23:46).

The Apostle Paul tells us that to be separated from the body is to be with the Father (2 Cor. 5). The Apostle Peter tells us that Jesus was “put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

Whatever else, happened we know this – Jesus’ spirit did not spend one minute in the grave. He was with the Father in the spirit world.

Reflection: Are you able to rest in the assurance that when you die your spirit will live on forever with God? Why or why not?

2. Jesus had work to do in the spirit world.

The Apostle Peter makes an interesting claim – he seems to say that Jesus preached to those in the spirit world who had lived before his coming (1 Peter 3:18-22).

After Jesus’ body died, his spirit, still very much alive, “went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Peter 3:19-20).

Peter goes on to say that “the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead” (1 Peter 4:6).

The Old Testament has only a nebulous view of life after death as some shadowy place where all people went – the abode of the dead (Sheol). It may be this place that Jesus went to set the prisoners free (Luke 4:18; Rom. 8:2).

We can’t be certain, but Saturday may have been a busy day for Jesus.

Reflection: Jesus worked hard for your soul. In what ways are you "working hard" today for God's Kingdom?

3. Was Jesus taking back the keys to sin and death?

Satan didn’t give up easily. In fact, he is still waging war against Jesus and his disciples (1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 17:14).

There may have been a battle for the resurrection. A spirit world war in which Jesus led an army of angels into the pits of hell to take back the keys to eternal life (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 1:13).

Jesus proclaims, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18). It may be that he won those keys on Saturday.

Reflection: How will you respond to what Jesus did for you? In what ways are you "wasting" the power He has given you over sin and death? 

Whatever Jesus was doing on Saturday, we can be certain of this – his spirit was very much alive and he knew Sunday was just around the corner. 



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