I don’t often wax poetic about my faith very much, but it is a driving force of my life. So indulge me please, with this post. You will notice that I cap any mention of Christ and God and their pronouns as a sign of respect to the divinity that is so much higher than any of us can even fathom. I work in faith-based publishing and this is an element of our style manual, but I also do this in my personal life because I think it is deserved. Just a note about that.
This weekend, followers of Jesus Christ around the world are remembering the weekend that in our estimation, changed the world forever. The death and resurrection of Jesus, which many refer to as His passion, is the event that set a faith movement in motion. These pivotal days started Thursday night, wherein our tradition, Christ celebrated the last supper with His disciples, telling them of what was to come. It was the night Judas betrayed his Friend for a few pieces of silver—a mistake so devastating the man couldn’t live with himself and committed suicide.
On that Friday, Christ was interrogated, flogged, humiliated, and sentenced to death. There was no real crime for which He deserved to die, but He went to be crucified (the most brutal of death sentences the Romans could mete out to a criminal), nevertheless. Where just a few days before He entered a city to shouts of adoration and love, those same people turned away from Him in the moments when He needed them most.
By the evening of that Friday, He asked His Father for forgiveness for all who had done this to Him. For those who had come before, and those who were still to come—like us. And then He died.
Friends found an empty tomb nearby and cleaned and prepared His body per the Jewish custom of the day. Wrapped in clean new linens, His body was laid inside the tomb, a great stone rolled over the entrance, and Roman guards placed on duty to keep the dead man’s body inside, and others out. And then Sabbath was there.
The Sabbath is the 7th day of the week. The day in which the 4th commandment of the 10 Commandments asks us to keep as a day of rest of worship. It is observed so by observant Jews and seekers of the word of God, including Seventh-day Adventists and Seventh-day Baptists around the world. There are those of believe it and follow it, those with no affiliation with any formal congregation or denomination around the world.
So, between that Friday where Christ went to His rest, and the Sunday morning when He said, “enough of this,” and rose to life as He said He would, there was observed a day of rest—the Sabbath. It must have been a miserable one for any who loved Him. I can’t imagine that worship anywhere in Jerusalem felt restorative, celebratory, or even holy that Sabbath. Those that sent an innocent man to His death had guilt and blood on their hands, not to mention fear. And those who loved Him and believed Him were heartbroken. But they were all still called to rest on that Sabbath. To try and distance their hearts and minds from the sadness and cruelty of their reality, using only faith to sustain them through their pain. There was the promise in ancient prophecy that said the Savior would rise on the third day. Rest was their only course of action. And it was needed.
For early the next morning, Mary Magdalene the woman scorned by the pious needed to see if what He said would be true. Their rest is taken—for the living and the Man in the tomb, it was time to begin the story of redemption for the rest of time itself. And when she came to the tomb, the massive stone was rolled away. Inside were death linens—neatly folded. The Roman soldiers—powerless and useless now knew Whom they foolishly tried to keep inside a grave. An angel was there, telling Mary what she needed to know: Christ has risen. He was not there.
Today, in that quiet space between His death and His defeat of death, we rest and sit in reflection. The rest is good. It is needed. And it is ours. As it was since God commanded it, this space in time allows us to breathe, pause, remember. For in the morning, the greatest miracle of all time will occur.
So, we rejoice in this space. In this quiet waiting. Because in the morning the world will know forever: Death could not hold Him.