The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
The one on whom they had hung all their hope lay lifeless in a grave cut out of stone on the side of a hill. It was customary to embalm everyone who passed away, how much more for him whose hands brought sight to the blind, health to the ill, and life to sinners.
This was a terrible time to take the day off.
And yet, as the sun fell behind the western wall of the temple, the women stopped and prepared to rest for the sabbath.
Modern research shows taking a day off helps refuel mental resources drained by the pressures of work. No doubt the God who makes both body and sabbath also crafts them to work together. But sabbath also transcends this relationship.
“The Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of [man’s] work,” observes rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book The Sabbath. Heschel argues for an experience of sabbath that reunites man with God, rather than deepening him in self-centeredness:
“He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life.
“Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.”
The grace of resurrection cannot be wrought by the hands of man. When the women return to the tomb after the sabbath they become the first to experience the invitation to rest because Christ labored on their behalf.
Our hour of greatest need, when we find ourselves most helpless, is the best time to rest.
Lord we confess that we forget to see sabbath as a gift and reminder of your work and sacrifice. Thank you for inviting us into the miracle of your resurrection. Thank you for the life we find in your grace.
Hope in the Darkness
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org