Holy Saturday

1Fret not yourself because of evil- | doers;*
         be not envious of wrong- | doers!

2For they will soon fade | like the grass*
         and wither like the | green herb.

3Trust in the LORD, | and do good;*
         dwell in the land and
befriend | faithfulness.

4Delight yourself | in the LORD,*
         and he will give you the desires | of your heart.

5Commit your way | to the LORD;*
         trust in him, and | he will act.

6He will bring forth your righteousness | as the light,*
         and your justice as the | noonday.

7Be still before the LORD and wait patiently | for him;*
         fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil de- | vices!
         —Psalm 37:1–7

Additional Psalm: Psalm 76, Psalm 102

Old Testament Reading:
Exodus 13:17–14:9
Pillars of Cloud and Fire

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Crossing the Red Sea

14:1Then the LORD said to Moses, 2“Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 7:1–22
The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

4See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

11Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
         after the order of Melchizedek.”

18For on the one hand, a former command-ment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
         and will not change his mind,

‘You are a priest forever.’”

22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

They sealed You up within the tomb, and set guards, that Your resurrection might be believed among those who deny You. It was for You that they sealed the tomb and set guards, O Son of the Living One! If they had neglected You and left You and gone after they buried You, there would have been room to lie and say that the disciples stole You. O Quickener of all! When they craftily sealed Your tomb, they made Your glory greater.

Daniel was a type of You, so also Lazarus; one in the den, which the Gentiles sealed up, and one in the tomb, which the people opened. …

If they had left Your tomb open, their mouth [could have remained] open. But they went away because they had shut Your tomb and sealed it and closed their own mouths. Yea, they closed it, and when they had senselessly covered Your tomb, all the slanderers covered their own heads.

But in Your resurrection You persuade men concerning Your birth. You were pure in the womb that was sealed and alive in the tomb that was sealed. The womb and the tomb, being sealed, were witnesses to You [and to Your divinity].

The belly and hell cried aloud of Your birth and Your resurrection: The belly, which was sealed, conceived You. Hell, which was closed up, brought You forth. Nature did not cause either the belly to conceive You or hell to give You up! … Thus do they proclaim that You are of heaven.

Sealed was the tomb to which they had entrusted You, that it might keep You dead, that is, safe, and virgin was the womb, which no man knew. Virgin womb and sealed tomb, like trumpets, proclaimed Him in the ears of a deaf people.
         —Ephraim Syrus

Christ was that priest God swore,
Uniquely First and Last,

Who would in righteousness and love
Be unsurpassed:

“A priest forevermore,”
An oath God would not break,

“A priest within the order of
         —Christ Sits at God’s Right Hand (LSB 564:2)

Prayer of the Day
O God, You made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection. Preserve in us the spirit of adoption which You have given so that, made alive in body and soul, we may serve You purely; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (466)

Lenten Catechesis:
Admonition and Encouragement Regarding the Sacrament
Those who are mindful of their weakness desire to be rid of it and long for help. They should regard and use the Sacrament just like a precious antidote against the poison that they have in them. Here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin. It contains and brings with it God’s grace and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.

… You have your own distress, which is around your neck. Because of your distress, this command, invitation, and promise are given. This ought to move you. For Christ Himself says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” [Matthew 9:12]. In other words, He means those who are weary and heavy-laden with their sins, with the fear of death, temptations of the flesh, and of the devil. If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength
[Matthew 11:28].
         —Large Catechism V 70–72

  1. We believe, teach, and confess that in the Holy Supper Christ’s body and blood are truly and essentially present, and that they are truly distributed and received with the bread and wine.
  2. We believe, teach, and confess that the words of Christ’s testament are not to be understood in any other way than the way they read, according to the letter. … Because of the sacramental union, ‹the bread and wine› are truly Christ’s body and blood.
  3. We believe, teach, and confess that all the worthiness of guests of this heavenly feast is and is founded on Christ’s most holy obedience and perfect merit alone. We receive these for ourselves by true faith, and by the Sacrament we are assured of them. Our worthiness is not at all in our virtues or inward and outward preparations.
             —Epitome of the Formula
    of Concord VII

Holy Saturday
The commemoration of Holy Saturday encompasses our Lord’s rest in the tomb and His descent into hell. The descent into hell is not, however, the depth of Christ’s humiliation but rather the demonstration of His complete victory over death. This day takes us out of the depths of most painful sorrow and out of the solitude of holy meditation upon Christ’s Passion to the celebration of victory as we anticipate the Lord’s resurrection breaking forth in all its glory on Easter.

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord VI 1–6