It’s Easter Saturday (more accurately Holy Saturday), the space between the sorrow of Good Friday and the joy of Easter.
What was Jesus doing on Saturday?
Maybe we should start with the why of Easter Saturday. In theory Jesus could have resurrected any time after His heart stopped beating. “It is finished!” could have been followed with “Surprise!” as He got down from the cross in His new body.
In Jewish tradition, it was not possible to say that a person’s spirit had truly left their body until the third day after their death. Remember that they counted the day that something happened as the first day. So Jesus rose on the Sunday, the third day after His death.
The delay was for our benefit, so that we would know for sure that He had died on the cross, not merely stunned as some people try to make out. Jesus’ death was truly beyond doubt. Not too many people survived a crucifixion, which in Jesus’ case included a spear thrust through His side.
So the delay was for our benefit, that we would know that the death was real and the resurrection was real.
Jesus’ body remained in the tomb, as far as we know. The opening was sealed and guarded by soldiers in case someone stole the body. They remained there until the events of the resurrection on Sunday morning (see Matthew 28:1-6).
Jesus’ spirit presumably returned to the Father for some high fives and celebration at the completion of the great rescue plan.
In 1 Peter 3:19 we are told that after His death “He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” It is not clear who these spirits are or what He preached to them about or why this happened. But we do know that this particular event happened outside of the constraints of physical time.
Regardless, we do know that Jesus died on Good Friday at the hands of well trained and experienced executioners. We know that He was, by any measure, dead. When He died He took the sins of the world and put them to death also, lifting from us the burden of guilt.
He invites us all to live in resurrection life, being a part of His Kingdom for ever.