Keeping Watch Through The Night
“And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” John 19:41-42
It is profoundly astounding to me how routinely the people who knew Jesus, who had followed Him for three years, hearing His teaching and who believed He was the Messiah were somehow so accustomed to their ritual concerning the Sabbath that they hurried to get Jesus buried before the Sabbath day began at sundown on that day. I say this not as criticism of them but to point to how remarkable it was that they did not know who He was, so it never occurred to them to do anything but follow the law and go about business as usual. Jesus was buried now and it was the Sabbath, so they rested according to the commandment of the Law.
But human nature tells me that not all of them were at peace in that “rest.” Those in Jesus’ closest inner circle, especially, were in great sorrow and mourning, even in despair because of the hope that He would be the One to establish a new Kingdom where they would be free from the bondage of Rome. And still those who were His closest friends mourned simply because a loved one had been brutally murdered, publically disgraced, mocked and made a spectacle for all to see. And it was especially heart wrenching that He was suffered all those things even though He was innocent of every charge laid against Him.
That alone would have made for a troubling, restless time of deep grieving during Passover. But it is also remarkable that not one of them, the Scriptures tells us, held out hope of anything concerning Him even though He said He would rise again on the third day. And at no time during His appearing after the Resurrection do we have an account of anyone greeting Him with. “ Aha! I knew it! I knew You would rise again!”
Those three days
and three nights of Passover for them were spent with no hope and no expectation of ever seeing Jesus again.
But Jesus knew this and He knew how His appearing to them after the Resurrection would seal their faith in all that they had heard and seen Him do. Now they would know beyond any doubting that everything He said was true and all that He promised would come to pass.
But we are more privileged than they because we have the Word of prophecy and the record of History and we have the Holy Spirit in us revealing the truth of God’s Word.
As we spend this night in anticipation of the celebration of His Resurrection we do so with the joyful recognition that He is alive forevermore. And because He is alive we have eternal life with joy unspeakable and full of glory!!