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I’m trying to imagine what the day after Good Friday must have felt like for Jesus’ followers. Yes, it was also Sabbath for them. The day of rest and worship. It seemed that many of the events of the crucifixion were rushed in order to be prepared for Sabbath which started at sundown Friday. Yes, there was a lot of tradition surrounding the celebration of Sabbath. But the day was designed by God for His people to have a day of rest from their work. It was supposed to be a day to pause and worship as well as take a break from work and reset their bodies and minds for another week.
I noticed in the Luke passage we studied this week, something I hadn’t noticed before. (It has been a 1 1/2 year study for our women.) If you have a chance, read Luke 23. It begins with Jesus before Pilate, then He goes before Herod, then He is delivered to be crucified. It is followed with Simon of Cyrene who must carry the cross beam for Jesus because Jesus is too weakened from the torture He has been through. Next comes the scene with the 2 thieves, and the actual crucifixion, followed by the dramatic effects of the crucifixion on nature.
Jesus’ death affected our redemption of course. But it had a dramatic effect on nature too.
When Jesus gave up His spirit, the sky went dark for 3 hours in the middle of the day, the curtain in the temple between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies tore from top to bottom, and there was an earthquake. The temple curtain was actually about 4 inches thick! It must have been incredibly beautiful with yarns of crimson, purple. blue, white, and linen. It also had cherubim embroidered on it. I’m told they were symbolic of the angels in the garden of Eden who protected people from getting to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. With that tearing of the curtain came the removal of access to the Father by God’s people. We now have access through Jesus Christ to God. No longer is God in the temple behind the curtain. That happened when Jesus died and paid for our sin.
This tearing was also accompanied by an earthquake and some saints who had died were raised from the dead. I’m told they had resurrected bodies like Jesus’ was and it was for a similar time frame as Jesus’ time on earth after He rose from the dead but i’m sure there are a variety of views on that.
The crowds returned home feeling sorrow and regret.
The Luke passage says that the crowds who came to watch, went home beating their breasts (a sign of grief and remorse.) Of course, Jesus’ friends were grieving and devastated. They had come to believe that He was God. But His death threw their world into disarray. Their hopes for the future were dashed and their good friend was gone.
It was good they had Saturday to stop and pause for Sabbath. Jesus had quickly been placed in Joseph’s new tomb on Friday with minimal spices as they prepared for Sabbath and tried to recover from the shock of those recent events. Just one week earlier, the crowds had been singing, “Hosanna!” to Jesus. Now, He was dead by crucifixion.
Resurrection is coming. They just don’t know it yet. It’s only Saturday.
We get a picture here of how hopeless they felt even though this part of the story is set on Sunday and they had heard that Jesus was alive, no one had seen Him.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”
And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
And he said to them, “What things?”And they said to him,
“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
Moreover, some women of our company amazed us.
They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body,
they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
(see the rest of the story in Luke 24)
Luke 24:13-24 ESV
Had Jesus’ death paid for sin? Yes.
Was there now free access to the Father through Jesus? Yes.
Had Jesus fulfilled most of the promises in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah? Yes.
Jesus’ followers didn’t realize the glorious truths of what happened on Good Friday until Sunday. Saturday was a very dark day for them.
But His followers and disciples were unaware of it on Saturday. Saturday was a very dark day. Saturday looked hopeless to them. It wasn’t until Sunday when they finally realized He had risen from the dead (and His body wasn’t stolen) they they had a glimmer of hope that something unusual had happened. It wasn’t until those disciples who were with Jesus (and unaware of it) were on the road to Emmaus, finally understood what was happening and began to understand what was actually going on.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:11-14 ESV
But I’m getting ahead of the story. Saturday was a dark, dark day.. For all they knew, Jesus was dead for good. Satan had won. There was no hope for the future. The Kingdom of God was over.
There are days when it seems like that even now. Even now when we know Jesus has conquered death. When we know He is alive. When we know He has purpose in the ways He works. We wonder if God is really in control of what is happening in our world as wars and injustice continue to survive. We just don’t understand what He is doing or why.
But the final chapter of our story has not been written yet. The final chapter includes Resurrection and Restoration. It is the best part of the story by far! We must persevere until we get to that part of the story. It is coming. Hallelujah!
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it,
in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption
and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:18-25 ESV