Holy Saturday, March 30 | Luke 23:50-56

Canon Bonnie-Marie Yager-Wiggan

The Deposition of Christ or the Descent of Christ is what Luke’s gospel describes for us on this Holy Saturday.

I’ve always thought it might be one of the most significant examples of our Christian community. Defeated and grieving, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the apostle John, and a faithful group of women, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of God, gather together to take Jesus off the cross and bury him.

Can you imagine this experience? Perhaps you have had a loved one die and were a part of the preparations for their funeral. This icon beautifully illustrates the pain, sorrow, and physical act of removing Jesus from the cross.

Notice Nicodemus crouched in the right-hand corner. He is prying the nails off the cross by hand to release the body of Jesus. Mary, the Mother of God, is holding the head of Jesus as she weeps over the death of her child. The women who have traveled with Jesus, supported his ministry and witnessed his death are there grieving and will soon take up their next duty–preparing the body with spices and ointments.

Perhaps we are most like the apostle John. John is to the right of Jesus, watching in agony, unable to fix or change the situation in which they find themselves, for it is true to say that on this afternoon, God died. (Which we read in this icon, by the skull and bones located in the mouth of the tomb.)

On this Holy Saturday, we wait. We wait with those gathered at the cross. We wait with our neighbors. We wait together for the coming day of Jesus’ resurrection.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Find all Lenten Devotionals from Trinity Cathedral here.