57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. 61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.
For hundreds of years prior to Jesus, the chosen people of God had kept a sacred rhythm: work six days, rest on the seventh…work six days, rest on the seventh…work six days, rest on the seventh. Because Jesus’ crucifixion took place on Friday, the sixth day of the week, Joseph and the others hurried to bury him before Sabbath began at sundown.
Reflecting on the lyrics of his song “God Rested”, Andrew Peterson writes: “If it’s true that God is outside of time, then it follows that he knew at creation, and when he established the Sabbath as a day of rest, that he was foreshadowing the Saturday when his son’s body would rest in the tomb.”
As Jesus was bringing about a New Creation in this holiest of weeks, He was re-enacting the rhythm of His creative work in the beginning. On Friday, Jesus said, “It is finished.” On Saturday, He rested.
Begin your prayer time today by reflecting on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice cost Him everything, and He did it all for you and me. In gratitude, pray these words from Psalm 92, a Psalm written for the Sabbath:
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
3 accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,
and the melody of a lyre.
4 You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
5 O Lord, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
As Jesus lay in the tomb, His disciples observed the Sabbath. Not knowing what was coming on Sunday, it must have been the saddest and most frightening Sabbath any of them had ever known. Still, they were called to rest, not to work—which forced them to entrust their protection and provision to the Lord.
Let’s join them. To the degree you are able, choose to unplug today. Go outside and take a long walk. Read a book. Play a board game. Put up a hammock. Linger around the table longer than normal after a meal. Take a nap. Write in a journal. Play with your kids. Sit in a rocking chair. Let the day go by slowly. Savor the day of rest. Reflect on the finished work of Christ. Most of all, anticipate the Resurrection.
The material in this guide has been adapted from Fellowship Bible Church’s Holy Week 2020 resource: Following Jesus Through Holy Week.
All scripture quotes are from the New Living Translation.