I don’t know how many times I’ve heard and read the crucifixion story, but during Holy Week there was something that caught my attention. It’s been there the whole time, but for some reason I just skip along to an empty tomb.
Matthew 28:1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
Between Jesus’ death and resurrection there was Sabbath.
Sabbath. What do you do on Sabbath right after witnessing your Lord suffer and die on a cross? The timing leaves you unable to clean and prepare the body for burial. The person you’ve been spending your time with; observing and learning from, sharing religious observances; he’s gone. Sabbath right after Jesus’ death? What do you do?
The days leading up to Jesus’ arrest, death and resurrection were filled with activity. There’s travel (walking,) preaching, teaching and preparation. We know the disciples were tired. There was the Passover meal and then Jesus took Peter, John and James to Gethsemane. Jesus asked them to stay awake while he prayed. They slept. He woke them and asked them again to stay awake while he prayed. They slept. When he went back to check on them they were asleep. He went away to pray. When he returned they were still asleep. He woke them in time for Judas’ arrival to betray him.
Jesus died. Then there was Sabbath. Peter had denied Jesus three times. What does Peter do on Sabbath?
John watched Jesus dying on the cross. Jesus saw his mother standing beside John. “Woman, here is your son.” To John he said, “Here is your mother.”Jesus died. Then there was Sabbath. What does John do on Sabbath in his grief with Jesus’ grieving mother?
The timing, right? Everything stops on Sabbath. Sabbath is different than the other six days. With Jesus’ death, everything will be different going forward.
But oh! With Jesus’ resurrection, everything will be different going forward!
Sabbath gives space for reflection. Sabbath gave space for Peter and John to reflect on their time with Jesus. Sabbath gave space for physical rest. Sabbath gave space for reflection on the future. Sabbath is a day to reflect on our relationship with Christ and others. It’s a day to learn more about God. It’s a day to rest, restore and reinvigorate our commitment to Christ so we can go forward into the week prepared.
Exodus 20: 8-11 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.