Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. John 19:41-41
What better day to end this series on the Sabbath than Holy Saturday? This morning I began revising this post from last month, and I recalled that my wife and I used to sing a song titled, “The Little Boy From the Carpenter Shop” that went in depth on the subject. (I posted a link below if you want to listen) I loved that singing that song, but now I wonder how accurate its interpretation was of what Jesus was doing between his death on the Cross and Resurrection Sunday. In fact, I wonder how anyone knows exactly what occurred after Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus rolled the stone over the door to the tomb? What if on the day that serves as the hinge between the Old Testament and New – what if Jesus simply rested? What if when Jesus said, “It is finished!” and gave His spirit into his father’s hands He had one day without sorrow, suffering or demands of any kind? What if after three and a half years of ministry, in which it was said that he had nowhere to lay his head and scarcely time to eat, that Jesus just rested in His Father’s ability to do all that needed to be done for the day?
What if Jesus rested because it was the Sabbath? What if on the same day on which the creation of heaven and earth was completed, Jesus just paused to see everything that was good in the new creation now begun? What if there are times in our own lives when there is nothing more holy that we can do than nothing? What if on this Holy Saturday we quietly reflected and rested in the completed work of Jesus Christ? The Apostle James told us that we could see His faith by his works; however, it is equally true that there are times our faith is by shown by what we choose not to do. Just as by faith we die with Christ and are raised by Christ, there are also times when by faith He calls us to rest in Him and with all our hearts trust God to do the rest!
And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:24-26
In today’s scripture Jesus accomplished more when he was resting than the disciples did while they were desperately rowing and bailing water. Jesus wasn’t being lazy when He was sleeping. He simply knew that the Father would help Him to do all He need to do at just the right time, but only if He rested! As we rest, it teaches us to depend more fully on Jesus. Just like the stillness that Jesus brought to the sea by His word, as we rest, our racing thoughts calm to a hush and in that quietness we can begin to hear God’s still small voice. Keeping Sabbath is a step of faith with our time, in the same way that giving our tithe is a step of faith with our finances. With our tithe we give the first and best of our financial resources, trusting that God will multiply the rest to meet our needs. We need to remind ourselves that keeping a Sabbath is not just observing some law, but a spiritual recognition that the first and best of part our time is better in God’s hands, than a whole week in ours. As believers in Jesus Christ we don’t “have to” legalistically rest on Sunday. Instead, we discover that we have the privilege at least once a week to find our rest in Him. One day we will finish with all of the work of our life. On that day we will enter into the greatest Sabbath of all as we find our wonderful and complete rest in the presence of Jesus forever and all our work will remain behind!
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath..” Mark 2:27 ESV
This story about Jesus and the disciples walking through the fields is recorded in three of the four gospels and though you may have never heard a message preached from these verses, Matthew, Mark and Luke each considered it among the highlights of Jesus’ teaching. Our ignorance of the treasure that God intended Sabbath to be is one of the great losses of the church today. God’s Sabbath came not only before the law, but also before sin. Sabbath was built into the matrix of our world. God’s Sabbath was His denouement: – the final act of HIs play, by which the strands of His plot were drawn together, and everything was resolved. Without understanding Sabbath, we cannot fully understand God’s story. When the Pharisees criticized the disciples’ behavior on the seventh day, Jesus made it clear that the purpose of the Sabbath was for it to be a day of blessing for man. God had not created man so the Sabbath could be observed, but He had created Sabbath as a day for man.
We once visited a village in Switzerland and on my Sunday morning walk, I passed by found a beautiful stone church. As I paused to rest, a man drove up, unlocked the door and went in to ring the bells. How lovely they sounded as they pealed over the valley. After he had finished his duties, he locked the doors and drove away. Is that what we have become? Do we just go about our day, ring the bells but no one comes? Do we remember vaguely that it is God’s Day, but barely pause long enough to catch our breath? Till the end of time Sabbath will remain a blessing and is built into who we are as men and women. Sabbath rest, worship and prayer are the breath, life and foundation from which we go out to do everything else, and when we keep God’s Sabbath, we keep its blessing for us, our families and everyone who hears the ringing of the bell!