After Jesus died Joseph of Arimatha, with great courage (Mark 4:43) went to Pilate and requested Jesus body. Not only was Joseph a man of courage, he was also a prominent member of the council, and generous to give Jesus his own new tomb, which had been cut out of the rock. (Matthew 57:60). He wrapped Jesus in linen, rolled a stone to close the entrance and left. The women watched everything he did, then they too left the scene. Although they had heard Him say over and over that He would rise again on the third day, none of them seemed to remember this. None set up camp around the garden tomb waiting to be first to witness this glorious event. Perhaps we would have no eyewitnesses at all, if it werent for those vexing religious leaders who went to Pilate and demanded a guard to prove that Jesus could not rise from the dead. (Matthew 27:57-66) So confident were they that the stone would not move, they sealed it with wax.
The rest of Jesus disciples spent Holy Saturday keeping the law of the Sabbath. (Mark 15:42). Sabbath began at sundown that Friday night, and although their hearts were broken their obedience to Gods law was compulsory. Im sure they didnt feel like rest, Im sure they would rather have planned a proper burial with the right rituals, herbs and tears. Maybe some wanted to plan their defense, an uprising, a campaign to fight injustice. Yet, their law insisted that Sabbath was a day of rest. According to the law, Friday was the day of Preparation, and Saturday was a day of rest.
Friday was a day of getting ready for the rest. That Friday had been immensely busy for Jesus. The preparations were torturous. Before Jesus could rest, He endured trials, injustice, mockery, beatings, whippings and ultimately the crucifixion. After such a day of preparation, this Sabbath promised to be the greatest Sabbath ever. It was the first Sabbath that the three in One could be absolutely certain that the possibility of salvation for sinful man was unmitigated! What a rest that must have been in heaven!
You remember on the seventh day of creation God rested. Henri Nouwen writes; There was a deep rest around the grave of Jesus. On the seventh day, when the work of creation was completed, God rested. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating. (Gen. 2:3). On the seventh day of the week of our redemption, when Jesus had fulfilled all he was sent by his Father to do, he rested in the tomb, and the women whose hearts were broken with grief rested with him. (Henri Nouwen, Walk With Jesus, Orbis, p. 88)
And then came Sunday. The women eager to properly anoint their Savior with herbs, rushed to the tomb as soon as it was daylight. These women became the first to witness the reality of the day that changed the world. The time for rest was completed and now it was a day for worship and celebration. It was the day the disciples and followers of Christ, got their first glimpse into what really happened on Friday. It was the day, everything began to make sense. All who traveled to the tomb found it empty with messengers from God. Mary was blessed to meet Jesus face to face on that day that changed the world. Henri Nouwen writes As these things took place, new words broke out of the silence of Holy Saturday and touched the hearts and the minds of the men and women who had known and loved Jesus. These words were: He has risen, risen indeed. They were whispered from ear to ear as an intimate message that could be truly heard and understood only by a heart that had been yearning for the coming of the kingdom and had recognized its first signs in the words and deeds of the man from Nazareth. (Nouwen, p. 94)
He is risen! He is risen indeed! It is my deepest prayer that these words have true meaning in your heart. I pray that you have understood and received the message of Easter. I pray that your life has been changed by the day that Christ proved to all His victory over sin on your behalf. I wish you a joyous and blessed Easter Sunday!