It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
The day of Preparation. The day before the disciples, the women, and their friends are to observe Sabbath. This is the day when Jesus dies. They have to hurry, prepare the tomb and lay the body to rest before the sun goes down. They can’t work on the Sabbath, even to bury their friend.
The Sabbath comes. The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, caring for him and ministering to him are in the kitchen. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee are whispering, quietly weeping over the trauma they had just witnessed. Their sons’ teacher and leader, their friend, the hope of a nation was put to death. That was only yesterday. He was beaten and whipped and mocked and starved and crucified. They are heartbroken.
Today is the Sabbath. A day to rest and worship. A day to remember the goodness of God. A day to be filled with God’s light and life. But how can they do that? How can they find hope when their hope was destroyed right in front of their eyes? Where is God’s light in all this darkness?
This is the place where we’re tempted to skip to the end. To tell the Marys and Marthas and Joannas that Jesus is coming back.
But, it’s best not to skip ahead. It’s good and right to remember the grief and mourning, the darkness and turmoil the friends and followers of Jesus went through on that Sabbath full of Sorrow. We know the ending, but on that Sabbath, in real time, they don’t. Sure, Jesus told them he would rise again. But they, just the day before, watched in horror as Jesus went through some of the worst torture in human history. Who can blame them for forgetting the details of every last word Jesus spoke? Who, in the midst of pain and grief, hasn’t forgotten important information? Forgotten the promises made in days gone by?
As we remember this day, the day Mary and Joseph, Matthew and Luke, Mary Magdalene and Joanna grieved the loss of their son, brother, friend, and leader, let us remember that we all feel pain. We all grieve. We all lose people and dreams and loved ones and homes and memories and hopes. None of us are alone in pain. Your pain is your own, and it is your gift to make you stronger. Your grief tells its own story, but that story is intertwined with the story of Mary, John, Martha, Peter and the others.
Maybe this Sabbath is full of Sorrow for you. Maybe you can’t imagine the feeling of hope and renewal and promises kept that will come tomorrow at Easter. Maybe, today, you need to rest in your pain. Maybe on this Saturday you need to whisper to a friend the story of trauma you’ve been living. Maybe tomorrow you’ll remember the words of Jesus, but today you simply need to remember that you aren’t alone. Maybe it’s not time to skip ahead in your story. It might simply be time to be honest about the horrors of this world, the sadness in your life and trust that tomorrow will come in its own time.
Johns Creek Baptist Church