"And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Luke 23:56
God's grace persistently provides a different perspective to some of the most intimidating issues of life. He takes an instrument of death and turns it into a symbol of new life. He takes a tomb, the last stop on life's journey, and turns it into a waiting room for new birth.
When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placed Jesus in the tomb, they were forced by The Law to rapidly prepare His body for His final rest, and then return to their homes for the celebration of the Passover. That had to be a very somber, and restless night for them and the rest of the disciples. From dusk to dawn the followers of Christ must have been filled with discouragement and disappointment over the death of their friend and their vision.
Opinions vary on what Jesus was up to during the period of time between His death and His bodily resurrection. The record reveals that He was doing everything but reclining in the empty tomb biding His time. His physical body was there, but Jesus was not.
- He was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit." I Peter 3:18
- He tore the veil of the temple. "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit, and behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom;" Mt. 27:50-51a
- He shook the earth as he strolled through Jerusalem. "and the earth shook and the rocks were split." Matt. 27:51b
- He opened many tombs and raised bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep. "The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised." Matthew 27:52
- He went to Paradise, the righteous abode of the dead, to fulfill His promise to join the thief on the cross in. "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Lk 23:43
- "He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark." I Peter 3:19
Jesus was preparing to release the greatest expression of the power of God that the world had ever seen. The timing of the release was set to reveal the sufficiency of Christ and the sovereignty of God over the sting of death and the condemnation of the law. When His disciples were at their lowest point, Jesus was on a mission to raise them up from their depths of despondency. He had told them that He would die and rise from the grave three days later.
When the disciples felt deserted they became despondent. God's delay does not mean God's desertion. Jesus was right on time, and in sync with God's plan. The disciples had forgotten the Word of God, and that led them to the wrong conclusion. They added up, one and two, and came up with zero. When they calculated "Day One" - the brutality of crucifixion and combined it with "Day Two" - the reality of tomb, they came up empty. They thought they knew what was going on. After all, they had been eyewitnesses to the events. They had jumped through all the hoops, and now they were jumping to the wrong conclusions.
The disciples were convinced that they had all the facts and had done the math. Unfortunatley, they had forgotten to add Jesus into the equation. God's math always includes the Jesus factor. Waiting on God is not a detour into fantasy land, but a place where people can regroup and regain their perspective over the intimidation of the immediate. Eyes blinded by the loss of vision can be restored to see the hand of God moving behind the scenes to accomplish His will, in His way, and in His timing.
The night is always darkest just before the dawn. The Resurrection gives us hope. Not only do we have victory of death and sin, but from Easter Sunday on, we can believe that every moment we wait on God can be filled with anticipation and confidence that the longer the wait, the greater the blessing.