The Lost Sabbath – A Day of Wonder
Palm Sunday Sermon
Sunday, April 1, 2012
By Al Gray
When we look upon current, historical and biblical times, many are the events or sequences of happenings about which we exclaim “ What were they thinking?” We try, with varying degrees of effort, to put ourselves in the context of the participants in order to understand the forces that affected the outcome, usually to avoid them, and sometimes to emulate them. Rarely is there a total void, so that we have only our imaginations to rely on.
The Sabbath between the Crucifixion of Jesus and the third day of the discovery of His resurrection was the Lost Sabbath in many ways. In more ways it was and, is a day of wonder.
Almost nothing is mentioned of the Lost Sabbath in the gospels. In Mark 28:1 it is written “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” Mark 16:1 records “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” Luke 23:56 provides a little more explanation. “Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”
Imagine that. The most revered three days in history, with a virtually blank Sabbath in the middle. Why? That day was The Day of Wonder. It remains so to this day.
A famous Georgian was renowned for exclaiming “Get the picture now…” So let’s try to do the same. Nothing is written, so in trying to get the picture we are left to wonder about many things about that day. Imagine the emotional tumult of the disciples and the multitudes that had followed, seen the miracles, pondered the parables, and gained faith in Him. The day before had seen Jesus seized, beaten, tried, abused, sentenced, mocked and executed in the most cruel way imaginable. At the moment of His physical death, there were great signs in the heavens and a great earthquake. The curtain at the great Temple was torn in half by the heavenly forces unleashed. Even greater forces were evident as written in Matthew 27, verses 52 and 53: “…the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” The followers of Jesus spent that Sabbath day wondering about the enormity of the death they witnessed versus the miracles He presented in life along with the tumultuous signs of divinity just displayed. They were certainly in very earnest prayer over these things.
During that day, the doubts of the followers had to be at a peak. Many were wondering whether the death was real or whether the promise of everlasting life were real. As great as the doubt of Thomas was after His resurrection, how much greater were theirs’ on that day, moments in which the death was ascendant on the mind? We wonder at their wonder, because the Bible is silent on these matters.
One wonder is that Mary and Mary Magdalene brought spices with which to anoint the corpse, indicating that they were dubious about the prophesy of his resurrection. The enemies of Jesus certainly remembered that prophesy because in Mathew 27, verses 62 through 64 it is written:
62Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63Saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, ‘He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.‘”
Despite His words, the two Marys wondered whether they were true and their actions portrayed the ultimate doubt. They expected to find a dead body and accord it final honors. If the very people who witnessed all of the miracles of His life and death were so unconvinced and exhibited such weak faith, our own weaknesses 21 centuries since their Day of Wonder might be put into perspective.
Ponder no more about that day, the lost Sabbath, so fraught with consternation, doubts and fears. The great wonder was their action after the resurrection, for they took such great confidence in that final greatest miracle of Jesus that they transformed the world.
That wonder will never cease as long as it is remembered this instruction –
The Sabbath about which naught is written, that Day of Wonder, was the last day of their doubt.
Wonderful. So might it be with us.