It is finished.
The Sabbath. Not just any Sabbath, but the day between.
Between the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Between despair and renewal.
Between evil's apparent victory and Jesus' triumph.
What must it have been like on that day? Did the remaining 11 disciples spend the day in shock- weary, drained, even perhaps feeling a touch of anger at being left behind? We know that they did not understand much of what Jesus said as He predicted His death. They weren't waiting at the the tomb on the third day, expecting Him to appear. Were they fearful of their own arrest? Could they eat? Did they weep?
We look back now with the knowledge that "Sunday's comin'!" and miss the devastation that must have been present among Jesus' followers. People who expected great things- political overthrow, a new kingdom, physical freedom. People who listened to His sermons and parables without comprehending their true meanings.
But the chief priests and Pharisees understood, for they were the only ones mentioned with an activity for that Sabbath day.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Maybe they considered, even for a just a moment, that Jesus was who he claimed to be. They had perhaps been witness to the tearing of the curtain before the Holy of Holies. They certainly had seen the sky blacken and experienced the earthquake. They could have heard the centurion's realization that this man was the Son of God. And yet, their pride, their human desire for control, their absolute certainty of their righteousness led them to Pilate. Were they really concerned about the disciples taking off with the body, or were they unsure of Jesus' seemingly sealed fate?
The women who went to the tomb the following morning had spent the Sabbath in "obedience to the commandments". As they remained in their homes, or wherever they were staying, did they weep throughout the day? With so many regulations, the Sabbath must have seemed so long, especially this Sabbath. No cooking, no cleaning, no carrying certain amounts of weight, no mending, no washing. How did they pass the time? Despair settles easily and quickly in the midst of inactivity. Jesus had treated them as no other man ever had. They were worthy in his eyes. They had value. They were welcomed at his feet. How could they go on without him?
I challenge us to sit in silence on this Sabbath day and feel the pain and the lonliness as we experience the between. Wonder at how long the day must have felt as we go about our business- the business of living. Their Lord was dead. They saw it with their own eyes. Touched His lifeless body. Prepared Him for burial and left Him in the dark tomb, alone. If we had been there, would we truly have believed that He would be coming back to life? If it happened today, could we suspend disbelief enough to dream it could be true?
Be silent. Make your Sabbath meaningful. Look forward to tomorrow but remember what today means. Only in the between can we find the true glory of the resurrection.