(Luke 23:55-56) "The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph (of Arimathea) and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment."
A friend named Keith shared this passage with me a few years ago. He told me how often he had read this passage yet overlooked this simple statement...
"But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment."
I cannot think of a more pivotal few days in the history of the world. Jesus, the one being followed as the Messiah by a growing handful of rag-tag believers, has been put to death. Not just any death. Death on a cross. Death that is only benefitting a common criminal or an enemy of the state. Death that causes and intentionally inflicts severe and cruel punishment on the unfortunate soul undergoing its ordeal.
But this was no criminal, no petty thief that was being crucified. It was, if He was who He claimed to be, the one and only Son of God the Father. He was the Lamb and the Lion. He was the Chosen One who takes away the sins of the world. The Only One who would and could ever claim to be without sin. And yet, here He was, being crucified alongside sinners.
A King and Creator, dying on a cross, awaiting burial and then, evidently unforseen by His followers, a glorious resurrection. We all know and cherish the story. But what happens here in the in-between time is what baffles yet excites me.
As Jesus was taken down from the cross, a man from Arimathea, a follower, asked for Jesus' body. He took it and wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a newly prepared tomb. There was no time for a proper burial. It was "Preparation Day" and the Sabbath was about to begin. So all the followers left Jesus in the tomb, partially prepared yet temporarily left and awaiting a proper burial. They even prepared the necessary spices and perfumes but, "they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment."
In our age of hustle, bustle and screaming noise, it may be that God is calling you and me this Easter to a place of rest, a Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. I think that my tasks and my life is so important that I cannot slow down. I am deceiving myself. If the followers of Jesus could rest on the Sabbath while the Lord of all creation awaited a proper burial, I am fooling myself to believe that my work is more important than honoring God and His appointed Sabbath.
My prayer for you (and me) this Easter season is that amidst the Easter eggs, new clothes, Sunday worship, and intolerable scramble of panting feverishness, that all of us would stop to rest, reflect and to honor God's Sabbath...
Happy Easter, everyone!