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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”—Luke 23:56 (NIV)
Have you ever lost a loved one? Someone who meant a great deal to you? As children, the idea of losing someone is almost unfathomable. But the older we get the more real death becomes . . . the more we think about it, the more we are confronted with it, the more we have to walk through it when it comes for those we love.
Though they weren’t children, it’s probably safe to assume that the disciples couldn’t imagine a scenario where their Master—who healed the blind, walked on water, calmed the storms, and raised people from the dead—would be killed. And even though Jesus told them repeatedly that He’d be delivered into the hands of the religious leaders and would be killed, they still seemed to brush His words off. No, no, no . . . there is simply no way Jesus was going to die. Why? Because they believed He was the Messiah. And in their limited view of God’s Word, through the lens of lifetimes of oppression and captivity, they believed the Messiah was coming to establish a physical kingdom. And the thing about physical kingdoms is that in order to rule them, you have to be alive.
After the scene they had just witnessed a week prior, Jesus riding into Jerusalem as the conquering hero on the donkey as was foretold, they were most certainly riding the high of the people’s adoration. If they weren’t sure before, they definitely were now. They believed they had arrived in Jerusalem with Jesus to see Him free them from their Roman captors, to claim the throne of David, and establish an everlasting kingdom for God’s people, Israel.
But, then . . . the worst possible scenario happened. A few hours after celebrating the Passover as a group, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, mocked and beaten, put on trial, taken before Pilate, brutally scourged, sentenced to be crucified, forced to carry His (our) cross, and nailed to the cross. And then, a few hours later, Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished!” and “gave up His spirit” (John 19:30 NKJV). Though the Gospels tell us only John was there to see it, you can imagine the other ten quickly learned of all that transpired. Jesus died and was buried immediately afterwards, as the Sabbath was upon them. And though He was laid in a rich man’s tomb—a tomb that had never been used (Luke 23:50–54)—Jesus wasn’t given a proper burial. Did you know the disciples couldn’t even hold a funeral for Jesus the next day, as it was the Sabbath?
So, what do you imagine they did on that darkest of Saturdays? Did they sit together and talk about what He meant to them? Perhaps reminisce on how great He was? It’s possible. But after all they’d seen and gone through, having placed their lives, hope, all their eggs into His basket, it’s more likely that they may have simply sat in silence, distraught and inconsolable, wallowing in hopelessness, despair, fear, confusion, and anger. No doubt, it had to be the darkest and most empty day of their lives.
But here’s the beautiful thing: It’s always darkest before the dawn, and the dawn was coming . . . the dawn of a new day, a new era, a new promise, a new covenant was already on its way like an unstoppable and bright, glorious sunrise.
“It is finished” was not the end. The story did not end with a tomb because the tomb could not hold Him back. There was more to the story because on the third day, the stone was rolled away and the Messiah rose again! He conquered death and broke us free from the shackles of sin. His death and resurrection make us alive, give us life. And not just eternal life (John 3:16), but true life here and now (Romans 8:11); a life of fulfillment (John 10:10).
Easter is all about the moment our lives truly begin—the moment we die to sin, death, and destruction and are spiritually brought to life to experience the presence, power, peace, grace, and love of God through Christ. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NIV).