New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God
Holy Week, which began with so much promise when Jesus rode the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The people adored Him—or at least they adored their perception of Messiah—and believed that He was about to make it known that the time had come for Christ to reclaim the throne of David. As the week proceeded, things seemed to be spiraling downwards, and by the time that Jesus hung on the cross, things came to a screeching halt. It must have been anticlimactic, disappointing, and more than a little depressing for the people, including the disciples when Christ’s body was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb that was sealed by a huge boulder.
Jesus died on Friday of Holy Week, which was also “Preparation Day” for the Jews and was the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42). However, the Sabbath was (and continues to be) observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening (Luke 23: 50-56). Thus, Christ’s body needed to be removed from the cross and buried before the Sabbath commenced (Luke 23: 50-56). Therefore, we know that on Holy Saturday, the disciples, and the women who travelled with Jesus, would have been observing the Sabbath.
But what was Jesus doing on Holy Saturday? Well, His body was still in the tomb, but even in death His spirit was recorded as descending to the spirits of the dead, (1 Peter 3:18-19; Ephesians 4:7-8). These two passages have been a bit of a mystery, which even many scholars note that they are not certain why they were included nor their message. One believes that Jesus descended into hell to proclaim His victory over death, (OBible.org). Others believe that Christ went to announce salvation to those who believed in God, such as Noah. If you’re interested in this topic, there are many free online commentaries that you can easily access.
What else were the disciples doing—aside from observing the Sabbath? They were in hiding, worried that they would also be arrested by the Jewish leaders and suffer the same fate as Jesus. What a difference a day makes! The next day, when they discovered that Jesus was alive, they began telling everyone the good news! And then they partnered with God to do a New Thing! Are we partnering with God to do a New Thing in our lives and in the lives of others with whom we come in contact? A simple, but effective prayer that I learned to use is, “God, open my eyes to the doors You are opening. Amen.” Why is it effective? Because it makes me more aware of what’s going on around me and helps me to pick up on how others are doing. Furthermore, my prayer lets Him know that I’m open to being used by Him, for His glory. As I was preparing this devotional, I found myself singing the chorus, “I want to live right, That God may use me, At any time and anywhere.” This is my deepest desire—I pray that it’s also yours: when we live with such a goal, God can use us to turn the world upside down, too (Acts 17: 6).
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)