Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Holy Saturday...the Time Between

Here's a thought on Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Christ's work in death is a finished work, having accomplished the covering of our sins. It is past (in one sense). Put another way, our participation in the death of Christ is past (in this same sense). Christ's resurrection, while it is past for Him, is yet future for us (in its perfection). Therefore, the church has always since Christ lived in that Sabbath silence that existed on that Holy Saturday 2000 years ago. We are in that time between.

But contrary to the disciples on that day, we look forward with assurance to the hope of our resurrection. And don't miss that fact that that first Holy Saturday was a Sabbath. We are resting in Christ while we wait for our resurrection!


M. Jay Bennett said...

Excellent thought Matt!

I wonder if the theme could be found throughout scripture. Maybe in the seven-day creation account? The Exodus? David's monarchy? The exile? Etc.

Again, good stuff. I am enjoying these posts very much.

Matt Bradley said...

Thanks Jay! I don't feel like I formulated it well...but at least this post will be a place marker for me to return to later and develop more fully.

Jared Nelson said...

Not that you must accept everything he says, but N.T. Wright says we are living in the eight day. Christ rose on Sunday to innagurate new creation, according to Wirght.

Matthew Bradley said...

Yep Jared. I've come across that before. Actually, once you start reading about it you find a lot of really pretty imagery and metaphors. And I think that's what the 8th day idea is, an image. I think it is proper to speak of the Sabbath as the 8th day, but not enough to leave it there. If you read Stookey's book on Time that I mention in a post later than this one he has some really great stuff on the Sabbath as the seventh day and as the first and as the eighth. In fact, to speak of it as the eighth day is really a way of speaking of it as both 1st and 7th day.

Thanks for the post!


Jared Nelson said...

Not quite following that, maybe I will have to read the book...Can we say the Sabbath changed or it was replaced? OPC I know are Sabbatarians, but PCA tends not to see Sunday as the Sabbath, right?

Matthew Bradley said...

No, the PCA is Sabbatarian. The Westminster Confession states in chapter XXI.7 "He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath."

It is proper to speak of the Sabbath being changed, but not replaced according to Westminster.

There are many men that state an exception to the confession at ordination with regard to the Sabbath, but they are not taking exception to the section I've quoted above. Instead they take exception to the next section, XXI.8 and the word "recreation". The divines said that there was not to be any recreating on the Sabbath. Many men today do not agree with this. This is an allowable exception in the PCA.

As for understanding my previous post, you are best off reading the book. My point was simply that I think we can speak fruitfully about the Sabbath utilizing several different metaphors. It is the first day, it is the last day, and it is the eighth day in a sense. Wright calls it the eighth day because a new creation is inaugurated. But in that new creation, it is the first day. It is also the first day of our week as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ each Sunday morning. It is the first day because we work the remainder of the week out of the rest that began our week. This reflects our understanding of justification and sanctification. We are justified and therefore sanctified. But this sanctification is a process of working out the reality of our justification.

You should also read Calvin's comments on the Sabbath in the Institutes. You can find it in Book II, Ch. VIII, Sections 28-34.

Between Calvin and Stookey (sorry...don't have the Stookey book in front of me so I can't point you to the pertinent sections) you should gain some great insights into the sabbath. I'll post here again today with a summary of Calvin's argument.

Matthew Bradley said...


See my post at the top on Calvin's view of the Sabbath.

Also, in reading back through this, I think I see an important distinction between what Wright is saying in your post and what I am saying in the original article. Wright says we are living in the eighth day, and I think he is correct with respect to our relationship to the finished work of Christ. Christ's work secured for us a rest that is eternal. This rest was looked to as a future event in the Sabbath of the OT. But for us, on this side of the resurrection, it is a reality.

In my original post, I was taking a different angle. I was highlighting our temporal location with respect to our own death burial and resurrection. We are in between. We were dead. We have been given new life, but we have not been resurrected, or glorified. Nonetheless, we are in a time of rest. My point was that it is interesting that our rest, which is real, but still anticipates our ultimate resurrection or glorification, so perfectly corresponds to the day between Christ's own death and resurrection. On this day, which was not only a Sabbath, but a high Sabbath, the disciples rested. But they did so (or should have done so) with anticipation of the coming resurrection. So in this sense, we are living in the day in between, or the Sabbath between death and resurrection.

And with this, perhaps, you begin to see what I mean when I say that expressing Sabbath with just one image is simply not enough. There is much rich imagery that is very helpful, not only for understanding, but for meditation upon something beautiful and edifying.