On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:56b
John, in his gospel, records that Jesus’ last words from the cross on Friday were, “It is finished” (19:30). Luke records, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” (23:46b). Both Matthew and Mark have recorded as Jesus’ last words, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (Matt 27:46b; Mark 15:34b). These records of Jesus’ last words from the cross have always brought me immeasurable comfort. But then again, I know the full story. My eyes dart from the “it is finished” in John to the “Now on the first day of the week” of the resurrection story located just a few inches lower on the page.
Chronologically speaking, I’m missing an entire day as I read along in my bible: the Sabbath. And, technically, that’s today: the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I jump ahead to the end because I have the end to jump to, I never sit here, in Saturday, in the silence, in the doubt of what had just happened. I rush from getting Easter baskets ready to planning how I’m going to execute Easter dinner while throwing a quick thought to where we’re going to go to church Easter morning.
The reality is: I’m not worried and so I don’t ever think about today: Saturday, the day before Easter, the day before the whole story would unfold.
But maybe we should think of it, consider it, stop and just imagine this day 2000+ years ago. For those who followed Jesus and loved Him and believed (by the power of the Holy Spirit) that he was the long awaited Messiah, this day was filled with nothing but doubt, filled with questions, maybe even despair and feeling abandoned. Was it all for naught? Was He lying? Was it some big ruse, some horrible joke? Were we duped?” Even as I type this blog post, my hands shake a little and tears form in the corners of my eyes; my heart can’t handle this day, my mind is weighed down imagining what those brothers and sisters of mine suffered emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally…Jesus had died…what now?
Imagine with me for a moment. Imagine tear soaked eyes looking up at Jesus dead on the cross. Imagine hearts torn in two like the temple veil, hope and expectation fleeing forth like birds out of a cage as they take his body down from the cross. Imagine minds in a panic, racing with questions and burdened with fear as the tomb is sealed shut. Imagine returning home just before dusk, entering into the Sabbath and rather than resting, you’re weeping; rather than worshiping God you’re questioning Him.
Imagine entering into 36 hours of the darkest dark night of the soul you’ve ever experienced.
While all of heaven, on that Saturday, waited with bated breath and excitement for the giving of the greatest gift ever given, for the fulfillment of God’s glorious promises, for Jesus to be raised from the dead, thus defeating it forever…
…there was just…