Luke 23:55-56. MSG The women who had been companions of Jesus from the beginning saw all this take place and watched as the body was laid in the tomb. Afterward they returned home and prepared fragrant spices and ointments and were planning to anoint his body after the Sabbath was completed, according to the commandments of the law.
Luke 23:56 NIV But they RESTED on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment
The ladies were planning….hmmmm…
I love calendars. Love them….
The calendar, day planner industry is gigantic. There is no end to the choices, styles, colors, price ranges of these tools that promise to bring peace and productivity when we use them. I love seeing my life clearly marked out in the small squares representing days of the week in my preferred date book. Just yesterday I laid out my plans for next week. Tided up my desk and closed the door to my office. I had peace knowing I was prepared for the 7 days following Easter weekend. Having clarity on whats coming helps me stay present in the current moments – which is just what I want to do these next 2 days. In my life and business I create long term plans and then break them down into months, weeks, days and hours. I’ve spent a good deal of my life learning how to maximize time by being properly prepared. The reality is… I really love the feeling of control. Don’t we all.
There is only one verse (that I can find) in all of scripture that describes the events of today – Saturday. The day between the darkest night and the brightest day. It was the Jewish custom to spend one day resting as per the model of Creator God himself – called the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” In order to properly recognize the Sabbath they needed to prepare in advance. In Luke 23 we see the women doing just that – they prepared spices so they could then rest on the Sabbath. They wanted to be fully ready to administer the rest of the spices to Jesus dead body after their rest day was complete.
It says in the study notes of my bible that “Yards of cloth and large quantities of spices were used in preparing a body for burial. Seventy five pounds of myrrh and aloes were already used on that first evening. More was purchased for the return of the women after the Sabbath.”
Wow – they had invested quite a bit – time, energy, money to prepare for what they thought would be their Sunday morning activities. Oh how surprised they would be ….. spices would be left untouched, time would be spent in celebration not continued mourning, oh their lives were about to be turned up side down for the 3rd day in a row. Their plans were not God’s plans and aren’t we all so glad about that.
We are all sitting in what feels like an endless Sabbath during this COVID crises. We want to make plans but have no answers about the ending. We look to school administrators and government officials for answers they can’t possibly give us. We feel frustrated because we have graduation announcements to order, caterers to book, vacations plans to complete. We may feel unproductive and lazy. We’re getting antsy and possibly increasingly anxious. Many parents are realizing school from home is now a real thing until fall. Many brides and grooms are shifting dates for their big day or cancelling the celebration all together – opting for a small ceremony with an officiant, 2 witnesses and a Zoom account so loved ones can gather round. This endless sabbath… oh its hard.
At the beginning of this lenten series I decided to focus on the life of Jesus. I wanted to discover how he made decisions in his short time on earth. I wanted to make a list of his yes’s and no’s. We learned that Jesus does nothing outside of his fathers will and ONLY did what his father told him… including today. Long before Jesus walked the earth we see God instituting this idea of rest. It is no coincidence that Jesus death happened on a Friday with the Sabbath happening on the next day. It forced his followers to slow down. To trust that they could get to what they were eager to do after they took time to rest. I’m guessing that even though this was a habit – they may have felt antsy and eager for the sabbath to pass. I’m guessing they wanted to continue to carry out THEIR plans.
But Jesus – he followed His fathers plans once again. He stayed silent in the tomb all that Sabbath. He would rise when God told him too. Can you imagine his excitement moments before the stone was rolled away?? The notes on his followers day planners were about to wiped clean. His plans would trump all.
As you and I sit today and wait. As we head into Easter Sunday – knowing the end of the story – I pray we can all offer our lives, our plans, our hopes and desires for our preferred outcomes to the altar of God’s will. I pray we can trust that whatever we think would be the best future for ourselves and our loved ones will never compare to the future God has prepared. May we experience the peace and hope that comes when we surrender ALL to him.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.