Holy Week 2012: The Day of Numbness

Read:  John 19:38-42

“They laid Jesus there.”  That’s all that could be said.  The body was dead.  Jesus’ friends did their duty and left.  Saturday was the day of numbness.

Years ago, I spoke with a man in Detroit.  It was one of the down-turn periods in the auto industry, and he had lost his job.  By the time we met and visited, he had moved past the pain and suffering of Friday, but he was not yet to the experience of resurrection Sunday.  He was living in the numbness of Saturday.

We must not jump over Holy Saturday.  We cannot get from Friday to Sunday without it.  Numbness is the intermediate state between suffering and recovery—between death and resurrection.  It means that the journey toward resurrection is marked by eery silence and stone-cold lifelessness.

The man in Detroit had “no more fight left in him.”  He was just going through the motions.  Holy Saturday is for any of us who have given up—thrown in the towel—or called it quits.  Holy Saturday is for any of us who have “lost our faith.”  It’s a day (phase of life) when a “tomb” is the only place we have to lay our bodies.

Holy Saturday has to be included in the Story, because it is in our story.  The best we can take from it is not much, but maybe it’s enough.  The day of numbness is a reminder that we do not have to hide our “lifelessness,” but neither do we have to accept it as God’s final word.


About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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4 Responses to Holy Week 2012: The Day of Numbness

  1. Rebecca Hyvonen says:

    My response to the above: Yes, it was awful. Only God in human form could have withstood such horror. Jesus inspires me when I am tired – He was beyond tired but kept going.
    He inspires me when I am betrayed or abandoned – He did not respond with bitterness and anger, but forgiveness. So yes, thank You God.

  2. Rebecca Hyvonen says:

    Dr. Harper,
    The posts this week have helped (continue to) form me theologically. Now, a question for you and everyone else. How do we respond to a (previous believer – but not anymore) young man who posts this on Facebook: “easter: when it’s apparently okay to post pictures of a man being brutally tortured all over my wall… Thanks?”

  3. Dennis Owen says:

    “Low in the grave He lay—Jesus my Savior!
    Waiting the coming day—Jesus, My Lord!”

  4. Jim Bradshaw says:

    Now that will preach!

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