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Special Sabbath


Sometimes we become so familiar with a story that we can easily overlook an incredible truth. As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, we tend to focus on Good Friday and Sunday’s empty grave, but we never focus on Saturday. Perhaps it is because the Bible is largely silent on what happened on Saturday. The only details we have comes from Matthew, who records that the Pharisees asked Pilate to place guards at the tomb. So, what is there for us to focus on? Well, the answer comes within the story we are so familiar with:

And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Luke 23:55-56

Did you see it? They rested on the Sabbath. The incredible truth we often miss is that this particular Sabbath would be the last of its kind as a new Sabbath was about to arise- literally! To understand why this was the last Sabbath of its kind we need to look at why God had the Sabbath put into the Law:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Ex 20:8-11

We find three main reasons for the Sabbath.

1) Rest from work.

2) Focus on God, specifically on what He has done.

3) Trust God’s provision.

God wanted one day set aside as a holy day to rest, but what was significant about resting was the purpose in that rest. As they rested, they would focus on God and all that He has done. God mentioned His work of Creation to remind them of His power but also His provision. When He made the Garden for Adam and Eve, He gave them all they needed. God wanted the people of Israel to rest so that they could constantly focus on all God did and for all God could provide. It was a day to focus on Him and trust Him.

On this particular special Sabbath, the Disciples of Jesus would rest and as they did, they should have followed the purpose of the Sabbath. As they rested, they should have remembered Jesus was Holy, so Holy that even a soldier got it:

So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” Luke 23:47

The Sabbath was a holy day. Jesus was Holy as a righteous Man.

As they rested, they should have remembered what Jesus said:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

How amazing! God made Creation in six days and Jesus was going to fix it in three! They should have made this connection.

As they rested, they should have trusted what Jesus said:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

The Disciples had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the last of the Sabbath ‘days’ by resting in confidence that Jesus was who He said He was, that He was the Messiah, come to redeem, and that He would rise again. They should have celebrated this Sabbath like no other. They should have looked forward to Sunday because the Sabbath was about to arise as Savior:

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Matt 12:8

Jesus wasn’t just the Lord of the Sabbath, but the Sabbath fulfilled. Everything the Sabbath Day meant was fulfilled in Jesus. He was Holy, He rested when done, He provided all we needed, and He just wants us to trust Him. This is why Hebrews tells us:

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Heb 4:1-10

The amazing truth we often miss in the Resurrection story is that we now rest- not on a day, but in a person- the person of Jesus. Jesus is the Sabbath. We can rest because He did all the work needed. We can focus on Him because He is seated with His Father, having sat down, finished with the work. We can trust Him because He promised a new life for those who do. That new life is secure because He secured it. What an amazing truth! That Saturday, the Sabbath we neglect to speak of is the last of its kind. No longer do we have the Sabbath Day because we now have the Sabbath life. This Resurrection Day, celebrate Saturday too.

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