… and on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:56)
The Gospel of Luke tells us that after Jesus died on the cross, his body was laid in the tomb. Certain women, who had been following Jesus since Galilee, observed where his body was placed, and prepared spices and ointments to anoint the body. But that task would have to wait, as the Sabbath day was approaching. They rested on the Sabbath, and returned on the first day of the week to discover the empty tomb, and the rest, as they say, is History!
I find it interesting that the terrible time of waiting, which Jesus’ disciples experienced after his death and prior to His resurrection, took place on the Sabbath. In a way, it was a mercy that His disciples were put in a position of “having” to take a Sabbath rest during this stressful time. Had this time of mourning occurred on any other day of the week, the tomb might have been opened for the anointing of the body. Who knows how that might have played-out? Also, had it not been the Sabbath, there might have been a scattering of the disciples, fearing arrest or persecution. But because they could not engage in long journeys on the Sabbath, they were on-hand in Jerusalem on Resurrection Day to hear the good news that their Lord had risen!
Also, the enforced time of rest, which the disciples kept during this time, must have served to quiet their anxious souls and to draw them together more closely at a time when they most needed each other.
In my own experience, I have often experienced the circumstance of approaching an oncoming Sabbath with a burden of some sort – maybe a major unfinished project at work, facing a critical deadline, or some other trouble or sadness. Rather than an unwelcome interruption, the Sabbath has provided a refreshing break from whatever burden I had been carrying. It was a time when I could gladly set aside my troubles, and take time to rest. The commandment to keep the Sabbath, you might say, saves us from ourselves and our own thinking about how things “ought to be,” and, instead, affords us a great opportunity to rest and refocus so that we can hear more from God, and be less distracted by worldly cares.
As you spend this Sabbath on Resurrection Day-eve, may you find an extra measure of peace and rest as you wait, as those women did so long ago in Jerusalem, to discover the astonishing Good News when the Sabbath has ended.