Holy Saturday, April 11th
The Women Go To See The Tomb, John 19:38-20:10
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Reclaimed from Sorrow
What do we do with Saturday during Holy Week? There isn't much in the Scripture that tells us what the disciples were up to while Jesus was in the grave. Everything is quiet. What is worse, the disciples are confined by Sabbath laws to remain in their homes without any comforts.
Normally Saturday, the Sabbath, would be a day of comfort, peace, and rest, but it had surely turned into a day of turmoil and sorrow for Jesus's followers. They would not have been able to go to the tomb on Saturday and were even limited on visiting each other. Jewish law states you cannot walk further than 2,000 cubits on the Sabbath (about 0.6 miles).
They were trapped. They were in a kind of social isolation, like many of us are. They weren’t able to use work as a distraction and certainly weren’t binge watching netflix. Not only that, but they were probably afraid. If this is what happened to Jesus, then what is going to happen to them. Surely, they spent that day reflecting on Jesus, all the things he had said, all the events that had happened.
This is why Mary waited until Sunday morning to prepare his body. When he died it was almost Passover and so they buried him quickly because no observant Jew would touch a dead body at that time. He was taken down by the Roman soldiers, hastily wrapped in linen, soaked with spices, and put in the tomb.
What Mary was going to do is not a pleasant job; in the early morning hours, while it’s still dark so we’re talking ⅘ in the morning. She plans on going into a cave where it’s cold, damp, dark, and handle a dead body, lift it up, re-wrap it with fresh oil and spices. That’s a pretty rotten job to do. I don’t think I could bring myself to do that for someone I loved.
She had to walk down a steep hill, and then up a hill. When she gets there and finds the body missing. So then she runs back and tells John and Peter. They run back to the tomb. I love the little detail there that John beat Peter. Just have to get that little detail of who’s fastest in there for the rest of history. They get there and it says they saw.
That word saw is not the normal greek word for saw. It’s the greek word ‘theoreo,’ from which we get our english word theorize. It’s to observe intently looking for an explanation, it means reasoning. When Peter and John got there they looked at the evidence and furiously began to reason. What does this mean?
Sometimes I think we get this idea of faith being blind. You just believe you don’t need reason. You just take a leap of faith. I think that is absolutely not true, that sort of faith will not hold fast through the storms of life. Peter, John, and Mary were not able to believe in the resurrection without a lot of thinking.
I encourage you to take time today to ponder Jesus. Ponder his life. What was it that he taught and did? What was important to him? Ponder his death. What did he do for you? And ponder his resurrected life. If he did in fact rise from the dead, what does that mean for us?