Riverside Community Church

From the blog

Easter Reflections – Saturday

Today’s Passage:

Luke 23:55-56

Click on the 3 horizontal segments of the above image for extra contextual information.

Reflection

Thoughts from the passage

On Friday the unthinkable had happened. Their Rabbi, the One they knew to be the Messiah and the actual Son of God, had been killed. How was it possible that God could let this happen? On Saturday those who were grieving Jesus did not know that everything would change on Sunday.  They assumed that the next day would just be an extension of the circumstances and emotions of Saturday.  Yet they kept the Sabbath.

The disciples were probably together.  Each person would have been processing their grief and the horrific events of Friday in slightly different ways.  Some may have been crying, some possibly quiet and withdrawn, some fearful of the Jews, some trying to decide what they should do next, some angry, some trying to comfort others. 

There are people who might conclude that since God had “let them down” by not saving Jesus, that they didn’t need to obey Him and keep the Sabbath.  Maybe for some of them it was merely ritual, having been ingrained in them since childhood.  But maybe for some, like the women who went to the tomb the following morning, they chose to continue to serve the One they loved even though their hopes and prayers had gone unanswered in the way they wanted. 

Reflect

If the disciples could have seen 24 hours into the future, around the bend in the road, they would have known that the Resurrection was coming.  If they could have seen 2 months ahead they would have known what the indwelling of the Spirit would be like and seen how He would radically transform them.  

If they could have seen one year ahead, and beyond, around the bend in the road, they would have seen how Pentecost would be like a flame and the resulting runaway fire, would start an unstoppable movement that kept growing and growing in their lifetimes and down through the centuries. 

If on Saturday they could have caught a glimpse of all that was coming around the bend in the road, they, like us yesterday, would have praised God for Friday and for His plan to save mankind.  But even without being able to see what the future held, or understand the present, they were faithful and kept the Sabbath.

Response

Do you have a bend in the road you can’t see around, which is causing you sleepless nights, uncertainty, fear, stress or anxiety? Either a road you fear will be very long before any bend, or the anxiety of what will be around the bend.

God rarely gives us a glimpse ahead, but we can know with absolute certainty that He is already there, and He will be with us both now and then.  He knows what is around the bend, just as He knew what you would be facing today. And until you get there, “keep the Sabbath” by continuing to trust Him, taking your fears and worries to Him, seeking His guidance with how to respond each day, and choosing to walk with Him moment by moment.

Dallas Willard, when studying Psalm 23, was so convinced that God was all he needed that he was able to say, “Let the worst happen, and God and I will go on together in the abundance of His being.”

To the Jews the Sabbath was both a commandment and a sign of the special covenant relationship between them and God.  Sabbath-keeping was to be performed, not in dry legalistic obedience, but as the holy response of the redeemed heart. Adherence to the command demonstrated passionate commitment to God.

Slaves did not have a day of rest, but after the Exodus God granted Israel a Sabbath, a day to abstain from all work and to remember that God had delivered them.  It was seen as a privilege given to them by the Lord.  The main focus of the Sabbath was to dwell upon the Holy Scriptures and other teachings, so that the person would be encouraged and equipped to live a Godly life.

Different communities in the first century may have had slightly different Sabbath requirements.  Some general examples of what was not permitted on the Sabbath included going on a journey, tilling the soil, lighting a fire, riding a beast or slaughtering an animal, bird or fish.  They would not walk outside their town further than, what was known as, a Sabbath Day’s walk.  Some say this was 1000 cubits (about 450m), some say 2000 cubits (about 900m).  They would only eat what had been prepared the day before and no one would even speak about matters of work.  According to the Oral Torah, Sabbath regulations could be set aside to save a human life.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.