So they laid their hopes away
They buried all their dreams about the kingdom He proclaimed
And they sealed them in the grave
As a holy silence fell on all Jerusalem
But the Pharisees were restless
Pilate had no peace
And Peter's heart was reckless
Mary couldn't sleep
But God rested
Six days shall you labor
The seventh is the Lord's
In six He made the earth and all the heavens
But He rested on the seventh
He worked till it was finished
And the seventh day, He blessed it
He said that it was good
And the seventh day, He blessed it
Andrew Peterson, "God Rested"
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
For hundreds of years prior to Jesus, the chosen people of God had kept a sacred rhythm: work six days, rest on the seventh… work six days, rest on the seventh… work six days, rest on the seventh. Because Jesus' crucifixion took place on Friday, the sixth day of the week, Joseph and the others hurried to bury him before Sabbath began at sundown.
In reflecting on his song lyrics quoted above, Andrew Peterson wrote: "If it’s true that God is outside of time, then it follows that he knew at creation, and when he established the Sabbath as a day of rest, that he was foreshadowing the Saturday when his son’s body would rest in the tomb."
As Jesus was bringing about a New Creation in this holiest of weeks, He was re-enacting the rhythm of His creative work in the beginning. On Friday, Jesus said, "It is finished." On Saturday, He rested.
Begin your prayer time today by reflecting on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. If you participated in the Good Friday service last night, look down at the black heart on your hand. Jesus’ sacrifice cost Him everything, and He did it all for you and me. In gratitude, pray these words from Psalm 92, a Psalm written for the Sabbath:
Psalm 92:1-5 (NLT)
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
3 accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,
and the melody of a lyre.
4 You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
5 O Lord, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
As Jesus lay in the tomb, His disciples observed the Sabbath. Not knowing what was coming on Sunday, it must have been the saddest and most frightening Sabbath any of them had ever known. Still, they were called to rest, not to work—which forced them to entrust their protection and provision to the Lord.
Let's join them. To the degree you are able, choose to unplug today. Go outside and take a long walk. Read a book. Play a board game. Put up a hammock. Linger around the table longer than normal after a meal. Take a nap. Write in a journal. Play with your kids. Sit in a rocking chair. Let the day go by slowly. Savor the day of rest. Reflect on the finished work of Christ. Most of all, anticipate the Resurrection.