Sabbath arrived full of sorrow and anxiety. Jesus was dead and because the Sabbath arrived shortly after His body was taken down from the cross He wasn’t given a proper burial. The women who loved Jesus had prepared spices and perfumes but then the day of rest arrived. Along with their sorrow, they may have spent Sabbath anxious to return to the tomb and care for His body according to custom.
Scripture doesn’t give us a glimpse into the actions or thoughts of the disciples on Sabbath but it was surely filled with tears and sadness. It is noteworthy that there is not one mention of any hope on that Sabbath. Jesus spoke many times over the years about His death and resurrection, but on that Sabbath no one seemed to remember His words.
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Luke 18:31-33
It can be easy to look back through history and be critical of the lack of hope and faith shown by Jesus’ disciples, but I’m not sure I would have remembered either in my grief. Jesus’ friends didn’t have the benefit of knowing what would happen the next morning. They forgot the promises Jesus made, and allowed the grave to rob them of their hope, making it a very sorrowful Sabbath.
Maybe that’s the way you’re feeling today. You had plans for this Easter, and staying home, away from loved ones wasn’t part of it. You had looked forward to a celebration with your church family too, loud voices ringing out together, praising the One who rose from the grave. Today those plans seem to be buried in a grave of isolation and sorrow. Those feelings are real, and they are valid, but should not be the end of the story.
My friend, I encourage you today to let the promises of Jesus rule over the feelings of sorrow today. The truth is that Jesus rose from His grave and brought eternal life to all who believe in Him. This is true whether or not we celebrate together! Jesus also promised to be with us in our sadness and disappointment. Ask Him to be present with you today, whatever your circumstances. You can be sure He will!
Today I echo these words of Paul for each of you:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV
While the anticipation of Easter is very different this year, the Jesus we celebrate remains the same. Thank Him today, and ask Him to restore your joy in the midst of sorrow.
Blessings and peace to you today!