Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. Luke 23:56
In the gospels what we refer to as Good Friday, or crucifixion day, was referred to as the day of preparation. It was a day to prepare for the Sabbath. Likewise, the day we know as Easter Sunday, or resurrection Day, was the first day of the week. The day in between was the Sabbath. In Luke 23:56 we read, “They returned and prepared spices and perfumes [the women at the cross]. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
I find it interesting that in the journey to resurrection the day after the crucifixion and the day prior to resurrection was a day of rest. Usually when we talk about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ we skim over “the day in between”. It is rarely mentioned.
I think “the day in between” has great significance and can teach us a valuable lesson about rest and waiting. Rest is mentioned throughout scripture. In fact our first encounter with the word of God tells us that on the seventh day he rested. A cycle of work and rest marks our own journey towards resurrection. After a day of resting, we are able to grasp the beauty of a new beginning.
God in his wisdom knows we need to rest and he commands us in scripture to do just that. He knows that if we stop on the day between crucifixion and resurrection to soak up treasures at his feet we will find refreshment and we will find joy. We will be better ministers for him.
Richard Foster has said, “that in contemporary society our adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds…the seeking out of solitary places was a regular practice of Jesus. So it should be for us.”
Jesus’ ministry had been profound. He often found himself exhausted and at times would steal away to rest. In the fulfillment of the death on the cross his final words “it is finished” were an acknowledgement that he had done all that he could and now it was up to God to take over and fulfill the promise of resurrection.
Did God purposefully plan the crucifixion so that there was a day of rest following? If so, what were his reasons? I don’t presume to know why God does things the way he does, but I do know that he always has a plan and his plan is done on purpose. Maybe he allowed that day of rest so that those close to Jesus would be able to get away from the brutality of the cross; maybe he wanted them to exercise their faith while they waited; maybe he wanted them to have time to process all that had happened before they welcomed the joy of resurrection.
Sometimes we are called to do a particular work and even though we know it is our purpose, it can at times become wearisome. That is why we have to take those interludes of rest. Sometimes the day of preparation is tiring at best, and horrible at worst and we need to rest on the day in between so we can be refreshed on the first day.
In Isaiah 40: 31 we read, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” The song based on that verse ends with “teach me Lord, to wait.” That is what “the day in between” is for – to wait and rest.
Dear Father, Teach us to take time to rest. Teach us to wait on you. After Friday we need you more than ever. Let the breeze of your refreshment be a soothing balm to our souls on the day in between so that we may meet the first day with joy and anticipation. Amen
Resting in grace,