As a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again. … Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, appoint a set time, and remember me! If mortals die, will they live again? All my days I would wait until my release should come. - Job 14:11-14
One of the most bracing claims of traditional Christianity is not that God fully dwelled in the man Jesus, but that the man Jesus in whom God fully dwelled was also fully human, and actually died.
Union with God spared Jesus none of death's psychological anguish. His physical pain was not more bearable because of it. His death was no charade. And, like ours, his hope of resurrection was a matter of trust, not a secret certainty he possessed because he was God.
Which means that Job's question was Jesus' question, too, as urgent for him as it is for us: If I die, will I live again?
On Holy Saturday, the whole church wonders. With God now dead, we pose the question to an empty sky. "Is there life for you, Holy One? Is there life for us after we too descend to the grave? And for the world now groaning, life?"
As a post-Easter pastor, I have assured dying mortals that they will live. I have consoled families with promises of reunion. I have preached that the world itself will rise on the last day. And in my own way, because of Easter, I believe every word.
But here, now, on Saturday, it's up for grabs. Today we know nothing. We hold our collective breath and wait. Wait by the grave and hope. Hope against hope as the night wears on and the morning comes.
Into your hands, O God, I commend my spirit, as I mourn and wait, as I wait and see.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.