“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” ~Luke 23:56b
The grief of that day. The gripping fear of what just happened to the man they had followed and loved. The women followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with spices and placed him in a tomb designed for Joseph. They watched his burial and then the Bible says, “they rested according to the commandment” in Luke. The burial process that the men had performed on Jesus’ body was shortened by the impending Sabbath. They would not be able to completely treat the body as they ought which is what motivated the women Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph to return early at the dawn of Sunday with spices. They wanted to complete the burial, to honor Jesus in His death.
Can you imagine how they spent that Sabbath? quiet weeping, shock, discouraged, maybe angry as they saw the Jews in the synagogue who had demanded his death just 2 days earlier, righteously indignant that men could demand the death of their loved one. I can just imagine the pleadings and tears in their prayers to Yahweh that day, questioning everything, replaying everything they knew had happened, looking for the moment where things could have been different. And yet knowing it wasn’t different.
Jesus had died. He was buried in the cave. His body was wrapped, spices applied quickly that first day because every Joseph and Nicodemus needed to honor the Sabbath. But the day following the Sabbath the women hurried to the tomb to apply more spices and finish the treatment of the body that Jesus would be appropriately honored in his death. No one anticipated his resurrection. Everyone believed He was gone, or they wouldn’t have treated his body for burial. They were not thinking in terms of his prophecies or aligning His teachings with the prophecies of a risen Savior.
So the Bible shows us that the disciples and the women went back to what they knew – they honored the Sabbath. In their grief and fear, they still remembered the commandments they had been given and walked in light of them.
Sometimes life seems really dark, really sad or really hopeless. We are fearful and questioning – questioning God’s goodness, His plan, demanding answers or hiding in our fears. We desperately want to know that God has another plan or another way coming. That He will DO something that will change all this grief and despair and bring us to a place of joy and peace. But in those times, do we stay with what we know? Do we return to the truth and the steadiness that only comes from Him?
We live in a different time than the disciples and women. We have the fullness of the Gospel – we know that Jesus defeats sin and death, that he returns victoriously from the grave and will one day return to take his children home. There is a lot of evil and sin, wickedness that leads to innocent sufferings, sickness and death, loss and grief, pain, anger that erupts because of our circumstances, questioning because we don’t know why, wishing that things would be different. Life here on this earth is broken. But our day will never be as dark as that day in between. We don’t have to be uncertain. We don’t have to be without hope. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” ~Hebrews 6:19-20
Too often I get stuck in the day in between, full of fear, confusion, anger or discouragement. I need to remember to return to what I have been called – to worship the One who saved my life from the sin that entangled me and to fix my eyes on the Founder and Perfecter of my faith. I know the end of the story.