What to Read on Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

In the Christian tradition, today is called “Holy Saturday.” It’s a day of waiting. A day in between the horror of the crucifixion and the promise of the resurrection. It’s a day in between death and life. For the Jewish people who followed Jesus, it was a Sabbath day, a day of rest. A day of waiting.

Holy Saturday and Waiting

Many of us find ourselves waiting during this coronavirus crisis. Waiting for the limits on our work and school and travel to be lifted. Waiting to see loved ones. Waiting to celebrate. Waiting, even, to mourn. 

Throughout this season of Lent (the 40 days that lead up to Easter), I’ve been offering “tips” on social media on how to start reading the Bible, and I’m offering the final of 12 tips here today. (If you want all 12 together, I created a free ebook that you can download here.) 

On Holy Saturday, a day of waiting, and in this time of waiting during COVID-19, the words of the Bible have particular resonance. Both the Israelites in the Old Testament and the Christians in the New Testament knew the peculiar strain of waiting. They questioned the purpose of waiting. They wrote about whether God was too slow in keeping his promises. They exhorted one another to continue to wait and not give up hope. I find comfort in returning to their words. I hope you will too.

How to Start Reading the Bible

Here’s my final offering as far as starting to read the Bible on your own: 

Use the tools available. If a passage is hard to understand, see if a different translation helps. (I like the NRSV, the NIV, and the Message—all can be found at biblegateway.com).

Use a Study Bible with notes that might help you understand and that offer introductions to each book.

If you really want to dive into a particular book, get a commentary to read alongside it. For books in the New Testament, I recommend N.T. Wright’s New Testament for Everyone series.

I’ve been reading the Bible now for decades, and I’ve gone to seminary, and I love reading commentaries and listening to podcasts and learning more and more. But the truth is that every time I sit down with someone who has never read the Bible before, I learn something. That person has beautifully fresh eyes and ears and sees things and asks questions I wouldn’t even think to ask. 

If you are new to the Bible, you are a gift to those of us who have been reading it for years, and hopefully we can be a gift to you as well. So I guess this leads me to one more recommendation—find other people who can read the Bible with you.

As wonderful as it is to read the Bible on your own, it is a book that was meant to be read in community. (Technology provides ways to do this even during social distancing!) This book is the story of God’s neverending love for the world, and of God’s neverending love for you. I hope you’ll find these thoughts helpful in receiving that love day by day.


Want to read more? Here are some suggestions:

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