“It is finished!”
When Jesus died on the Cross, at that moment he trampled upon death by his death.
“He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Why the wait?
First, our Lord was a pious Jew, part of the people with whom God had made a covenant. It was to perfectly fulfill this covenant that Jesus rested on the seventh day from his labors to begin a new creation on the eighth day.
“The great Moses mystically prefigured the present day when he said: God blessed the seventh day. For this is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest on which the only-begotten Son of God kept the Sabbath in the flesh by resting in death from all his works according to the plan of salvation. Returning again to what he was through the Resurrection, he granted us eternal life. He alone is good and Loves us all.” (Doxasticheron of Holy Saturday)
By keeping the Sabbath, he fulfilled the Scriptures, as we profess always, “he rose according to the Scriptures.” This was to fulfill the sign of Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of the great fish: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39). This day is the sign given to all believers.
Father Alexander Schmemann wrote that Holy Saturday manifests our life in the world. The Son of God was not subject to corruption, but we are mortal and must return to dust. Peter preached on Pentecost: “This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24). But we are still held by the throes of death. This day is a reflection of our lives in the world. He live in the hope of resurrection and eternal life, but for now we must work to establish the kingdom of God in the world in which we live, a world that does not know Christ, a world in which we all must confront the mystery of death. Today we pray that God may give us the grace, the strength to “do his will, on earth as it is in heaven.”