Holy Week: A Dark Sabbath

In John 20:9, Scripture gives indication that the disciples still did not have an understanding that Jesus must rise from the dead, despite His telling them that these events must happen on multiple occasions (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23; John 12:31-33), as well as giving Peter, James, and john a preview of His resurrected self in Matthew 17:1-8. Therefore, we can safely make an assumption of their state of mind after the death of Jesus on the cross.

Seeing their leader die would certainly have made them afraid for their own lives. Couple this with experiencing the grief they must have had as the one they called friend, master, and Lord, had died such a cruel death. It had to be a dark couple of days for them as they huddled in Jerusalem, unsure of what the future held for them.

Despite their lack of clarity in what must take place, we see a strong degree of faith, love, and devotion tied to their staying together in Jerusalem. Yes, they were undoubtedly scared, but Jewish traditions kept them together in mourning. It was a custom for friends and family to attend to the grave for seven days (c.f. John 17:17-19), offering comfort and prayers to those affected by the death. Additionally, Jewish law would have prevented travel on the Sabbath, so for most of the disciples—who were all Jews—would not have been able to travel no more than a half-mile or so until after sundown on Saturday (c.f. Acts 1:12).

So, we can get a pretty good picture of the state of being of the disciples of Jesus on the Sabbath. When you take this into account, one can hardly imagine a plot between them all to go and steal the body of Jesus. Not only were they in no state emotionally to confront such a proposition, but their understanding of the necessity of the resurrection was not yet complete. Combine this with the obvious Sabbath day violations such actions would cause, and the idea of them stealing the body is just insane.

This was a day of darkness. Consider all of the worldly forces that wanted Jesus to be entrapped in that tomb. Not just the earthly powers at the time—the Jewish leaders, the Romans—but the spiritual powers, the Enemy himself. Oh, if only he could have kept Jesus in that tomb!

When we come to this day, take time to remember what Jesus endured for you and I. While we know we serve a risen Lord, the disciples on that dark Sabbath did not.

Let today serve as a reminder that the cross must come before the crown.