On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56)
So much has happened in the past week. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, cleared out the temple, ate the Passover with the disciples, and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas betrayed him, the council condemned him, and Pilate handed him over to be crucified. Jesus died, they wrapped his body in linen, and placed in him the tomb. Whew! They (and we) could use a break. It’s like getting back from a vacation and thinking, “I need a vacation after my vacation.”
On the one hand, nothing has changed. Every seventh day was still a Sabbath, a day of rest. At sunset on Friday, Jewish families would (and still do) gather in their homes to light candles and pray. Rather than going to work on Saturday, you went to the synagogue, where the rabbi would read the scriptures and teach. After a break from routine, Sunday would be a new day and a new week.
I wonder how anyone who witnessed Jesus’ death could sit there in the synagogue and pay attention. My mind would have been filled with the images of the crucifixion. How could that happen? How could anyone do that to Jesus? Now what?
Well, life goes on. Everyone did what everyone did on the Sabbath. It’s like nothing special had happened in or outside of Jerusalem. Nothing had changed.
But it is unusually quiet. The demons aren’t running amuck in the streets. They aren’t celebrating a victory over the Christ. They are strangely silent. Do you think they knew? Do you think they knew something was up? Did they suspect it wasn’t over yet?
It’s hard to rest. What I mean is, we admire busyness and accomplishment, so we feel guilty if we don’t get something productive done. It’s always been that way. That’s why God commanded the Sabbath. He knew we wouldn’t stop unless he made us. And he made us needing rest. We need daily rest, weekly rest, seasons of rest, and most days, a nap.
Even if Jesus is dead, if he’s in the tomb, if your hopes have been shattered, you still need rest. Even if the tomb is empty, Jesus is risen (he is risen indeed!), and death has been defeated, you still need rest.
What a blessing to know that we can rest easy, knowing that our past has been redeemed, our future is secure, and today he’s ready to do more than we could ask or imagine!
Thank you for the sweet, sweet rest of your grace, Lord.