“And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to the decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
What do you think the Saturday after Jesus’s death was like?
It was Sabbath, which meant there wouldn’t have been a lot of activity in Jewish homes, but what do you think Jesus’ family, friends, and followers were feeling?
Not much is said about the day by any of the Gospel writers, but consider it for a moment with me. Saturday is the space in between Jesus’ death and His resurrection. The day before this day held unimaginable pain and grief, and the day after will hold unimaginable victory and joy…. But if you’re living through it, you don’t know that yet.
I imagine the disciples might have questioned Friday’s events over and over in their minds, trying to discern what exactly had happened and what it meant. And can you imagine Peter’s grief? After denying his Lord three times? To say that this particular Sabbath was a dark day is an understatement, to say the least.
Do you think they remembered at all that Jesus had told them He would suffer, die, and be raised to life? (Luke 9:21, 9:44-45, 18:31-34) Or were they so consumed with grief that His words still didn’t register? Could they have anticipated what was to come in any way?
I see myself and the history of God’s people all over this passage, and there are three thoughts I’d love to share with you as we meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice this weekend.
1. Silence is not ignorance. How Jesus’ friends and followers must have cried out in prayer to God on this day, asking all the questions in their minds! But on this day, God was silent. On the next day He would answer mightily, but today—silence. And you know what? In that silence, the greatest act of redemption for the entirety of mankind was working itself out. Silence was not ignorance. Silence was not unproductive. Silence was not negligence. Silence was part of the plan.
And aren’t we asked to exercise faith in the silences in our own lives, now? In the deepest pain, and the heaviest grief? Sometimes we experience God’s presence tangibly and sometimes we feel the silence. But the silence doesn’t mean He ignoring us. Isn’t moving. Isn’t working. He is! We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we can be confident that He does, and that His “answer” may very well dawn with the morning sun. So, hold on for tomorrow. Whether it’s the next 24 hours or when He returns, He hears you and He will answer.
2. Obedience is important. Verse 56 says, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Even in their deep grief and unbearable sadness, the women were obedient. If ever there was a day to skip out on the requirements of Sabbath, it seems like the death of Jesus could be justified as an anomaly. To do whatever they wanted to do as far as continuing to prepare His body, or to gather with one another and reminisce over a properly cooked meal… but they rested according to the commandment. Their pain did not negate their obedience to what God had asked them to do.
This is so convicting for me. How often do I let a difficult circumstance or a tough day become my justification for laxness or even for straight up disobedience? Doing the thing that I know I shouldn’t because I just want to escape in some way. It may seem harmless when it involves eating junk food after a long day at work, but what my heart is choosing in even that moment has far-reaching consequences. May we exercise faith and fight for holiness as we choose the obedient way.
3. Sunday is coming. The weight of this day is just so heavy. It’s dark and it’s filled with unknowns. With doubts and insecurities and questions that feel like they can never be addressed or assuaged. And yet—we know that Sunday is coming! There will be a day of rejoicing! Take heart in this truth as it applies to where you are.
The reality of a promised Sunday meets you in your hoping. When we anchor our souls to hoping in Christ, whatever is unfulfilled today will not be so forever, because Jesus promises us He will return. Just like He told the disciples what was coming, He’s told us what to expect—how the redemptive story will end. He will return, He will completely satisfy, He will fulfill, He will bring justice, He will make all things new. Anchor your souls, friends!
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.