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.
Luke 23 vs.55-56
This was indeed a very strange Sabbath! A Sabbath like no other! Jesus was dead. His body had been taken down from the cross and given a hasty burial by his followers in the nearest tomb available as time was of the essence as the Sabbath was about to begin and his followers were obedient to the fourth commandment. So quickly did this happen that there was no time for the proper burial preparations of spices and perfumes which the women prepared before the Sabbath began.
Then in a sense time stood still.
We are told almost nothing of that day. No insight into how the events of the previous 24 hours affected those who had witnessed the greatest cosmic event of all time. How then does one write about this day?
Please indulge me then as I use a little imagination in trying to see into the minds of some those whose lives would not be the same again.
I offer these thoughts in no particular order.
Did Pilate’s conscience tell him that night and the day following that he had condemned an innocent man to death? Did his conversation with Jesus lead him later to embrace truth? He had a note put on the Cross ‘The King of the Jews’. Did he come to understand the reality of that? We simply do not know, but he had come face to face with Jesus.
Barabbas only plays a bit part in the saga of Good Friday and we hear nothing of him again but he was a free man that afternoon because Jesus had taken his place on the Cross. Was he possibly in the crowd watching Jesus die? Did he carry on as before as an insurrectionist or did his, albeit distant connection with Jesus change him? We simply do not know.
The High Priest and the Religious Leaders
Did they rethink what they had engineered? Did any of them come under conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent. It seems unlikely but we simply do not know.
Judas never saw this day. He was repentant as he tried to return the 30 pieces of silver but in his remorse he killed himself before Jesus died and so never saw him on the Cross. His sin was not unforgivable but he died in his sin. A salutary warning!
The Penitent Thief
On this day he was with his Saviour in paradise! What a glorious truth that is never too late, while we still have life, to seek forgiveness from the Saviour.
At the Cross he, with others (Matthew 27.54), said ‘Truly this was the Son of God’. Did this translate into a changed life? Did he by any chance know Cornelius (Acts 10) and talk to him about his understanding of Jesus? We simply do not know.
The Disciples including the women.
This Sabbath must have been an awful (that is too weak a word) day, for their understanding of Jesus’ teaching about him rising again was partial to say the least. Indeed the record of what they did on the resurrection morning indicates that the Sabbath was one of grief, loss and mourning and yet… when the Holy Spirit was given they were more joyful, more alive, more empowered than they had ever been as they took the good news of the gospel to the world.
You and I
We were not there and living this side of the cross we can only imagine what that Sabbath was like.
It is good for us to imagine but it is where we are today that is important. Have the events of Good Friday changed us for ever? I am caused to wonder if those at the Cross about whom we know no more were changed for ever but the real question is
‘How has the Cross changed me?’