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Dr. John Watson, General Practitioner

On the subject of unsubtle Christological allusions in contemporary culture: Sherlock. No prizes for guessing where I'm going here...

At the end of Season 2, Sherlock dies -- under dramatic, self-sacrificial circumstances. John Watson sees the whole thing, and is devastated. There can be no doubt: in order to save his friends from Moriarty's malevolent scheming, Sherlock throws himself off the roof of St Bart's, where John is (almost) the first on the scene of his lifeless corpse, and even checks his (absent) pulse before the hospital staff intervene and carry the body away. The episode ends with John and Mrs. Hudson standing sorrowfully by the grave, longing (but with no cause to hope) that it might not be so.

Two years elapse before the start of Season 3, and John has returned to his old life. He no longer lives at 221B Baker Street, and has lost touch with Mrs. Hudson -- not through lack of affection, he just can't stand to be reminded. He has dealt with things as those grieving deal with them. He remembers his old friend with longing and sadness but things are pretty 'norma' they were before, so to speak. Accepting that adventures and mysteries are a thing of the past, he concentrates on his work as a GP and develops a steady relationship with the lovely Mary Morstan, to whom he plans to propose. His expectations have been recalibrated to those of his pre-Sherlock days, before his world was shaken upside-down by the extraordinary charisma, the unprecedented drama, and the poignant (though unconventional) companionship with which that individual infused his life. And then, of course, against all of his moderated expectations… Well, no spoilers, but the very existence of a third season is somewhat of a giveaway (that, and the fact that the audience got to see Benedict Cumberbatch hiding behind a tree way back at the end of Season 2). 

Holy Saturday (or Liminal Saturday, as I've taken to thinking of it) is a strange, in-between sort of day: the most awful thing has happened, the most awesome thing is yet to happen. But (like the viewers of Sherlock) we are expectant: we know that "Sunday is coming". And so, we wait. 

But that's not at all how the disciples experienced it at the time. They had nothing left to wait for. In spite of Jesus' sometimes remarkably explicit predictions of his death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 21:17-19) it is obvious from the gospel accounts (e.g. Luke 24) that they really, really didn't even begin to 'get it' until afterwards. Right now, as far as they were concerned, it was all over: all their hopes, the deep love they felt for their leader and friend, the promise of a different future, the coming Kingdom...all come to nothing. Possibly some of them thought about appointing a new leader...his brother James, perhaps? But then, Jesus was considerably more than just the representative of a bundle of good ideas that could be ongoingly promoted in his absence. That charisma, that authoritative wisdom, that overflowing love, that miraculous couldn't just decide to pick up where Jesus left off. There was simply no-one like him (just as neither Watson, nor Mrs. Hudson, nor Lestrade, nor Molly, nor even the differently brilliant Mycroft could head up a continuation of Sherlock's detective work if they had wanted to). Besides, all that Jesus stood for, all that they had begun to understand and believe in, well...wasn't it rather undermined by his death? His opponents picked up on this theme as they watched him hanging, dying, on the cross...
...the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:35-39)
And whilst it's hard to imagine his devoted followers joining voices with the jeerers, they must have had questions of their own: what did it all mean if he had failed to "save himself"? The cross, viewed by them on that first Holy Saturday, signified the end. Yesterday, they had been "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18-22); tomorrow, so they supposed, they (or most of them) would be ordinary fishermen again. Right now, it was the Sabbath, so "they rested according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56b)...

[Thumbnail image CC by EEPaul on flickr]