“On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
~Luke 23:56a (NRSV)
In the day’s gap between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus we can but wonder the mood in Jerusalem. The scattered disciples and other followers of Jesus, including the women who prepared the tomb, had time for passive reflection and to try to make some sense of what had occurred; the things Jesus said at the Last Supper (if they were present), his arrest and the subsequent kangaroo court conviction, and the incredibly barbaric treatment their Lord was subjected to. What, exactly, had come of justice? And, what was to become of them now without their Rabbi and Lord?
This Sabbath was marked by a great deal of shock, as they sought to reconcile what they’d seen with their perceptions of justice, not to mention their grief. Then there’s the issue of their respective culpability. Certainly Peter would have been thinking that way. But each of the disciples, in their own way, failed Jesus in the lead up to, and during, the crucifixion.
A Sabbath with much to ponder!
A Lack Of Anticipation – Then And Now
With the benefit of hindsight, knowing Jesus was to be raised again, we could assume the disciples would have had some inkling of what would occur early that next day, the most famous Sunday in history. But, even though he’d said as much, and many times, even the night he was betrayed, Jesus’ mention of his resurrection would have been lost on the disciples. They didn’t understand. They couldn’t.
There could not have been any thought for anticipation. Their Sabbath rest would have been solemn indeed.
This mirrors the level of anticipation we have before we’re saved. We have no idea what God has stored up for us. We may have previously thought people who believed in God were mad. Now, having been saved, even a moment, it makes all the sense in the world, and more.
Our lack of anticipation for the work of salvation in our hearts and minds is the most comprehensive surprise. It’s as if the day before we were saved was the quietly tumultuous Sabbath the disciples had before Resurrection Sunday; that, for us, as for them, it arrived to announce the day of the Lord’s Jubilee—ourselves, risen.
The day we received the salvation of God is reminiscent of Resurrection Sunday. The day before we had no idea we might be transformed.
The day between the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus was a quiet and unassuming affair. Perhaps we had recently put to death some important sin. Maybe we were about to come alive.
Salvation is the most surprising of all experiences. The indwelling Holy Spirit brings us alive to truth and the scales are removed from our eyes; we hear truth; our hearts and minds are opened. Just like Jesus, we are risen.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.