For the Jews in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, today was the Sabbath when the observant Jew was bound by restrictive rules “To keep the Lord’s day holy.” And so it is not until the first day of the week, Sunday, that the women go to the tomb to perform the ritual cleansing of Jesus’ body.
But today is Saturday. Where was Jesus on Saturday? Surely, Christians know that he was not in the tomb early Sunday morning. Dan Dick ponders this question in his blog “United Methodeviations.”
“All is darkness. Was Jesus sentient at all on the Sabbath? It is a disquieting association –Sabbath rest with death, yet on this seventh day, Jesus rested. At what point did resurrection occur? We know when the followers experienced it, but when did it begin? When did the pneuma — the breath, the Spirit, the essence — return? When did awareness dawn? When did Jesus come back to himself, and begin the return journey? . . .”
From “United Methodeviations” by Dan R. Dick, an ordained United Methodist minister, http://doroteos2.com/author/doroteos2/
What was Jesus doing in the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the hours between the time of his physical death and others’ awareness of his physical resurrection? Today, as I go about the regular activities of Easter preparation: the food prep, egg decorating, candy buying, Easter basket filling, (and this year, birthday celebrating for Laura who will be nine-years-old tomorrow), I will ponder this question. Ginger Mason
Mark 15 "42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph[l] bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body,[m] wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where the body[n] was laid." (NRSV)
For Jesus, the agony and the reason for his life and death are finished. But for the rest of us, our life purpose has just begun. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have been as brave as Joseph of Arimathea - a man of authority in the Jewish council. Joseph, a believer in the promise of the restored glory and power of the Jewish nation. Joseph who went before Pilate and asked - boldly asked, Mark tell us - for the body of the rabble-rouser, blasphemer, the one whom Pilate had just put to death. Joseph who had everything to lose!
I can picture Joseph carefully removing the bloody and broken body of Jesus and tenderly cradling it as he wrapping it in linen. How did Joseph become brave enough to stop caring about his safety or reputation? Maybe Joseph was the first to carry on, followed by the Marys at the tomb, and, eventually those who walked, talked and ate with Jesus. And let's not forget Saul/Paul; who could forget Paul!
We, in the 21st century, stand at the end of the long line of those who throughout history have heard the message of Jesus and carried the message forward. For us who carry on, it is not yet finished! Ginger Mason
"1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: . . . 14This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. . . . 24 You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. 25 When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” ( Ex12:1a;14 &24-26)
And so, it begins. The beginning of the end. Or so it seems - to Jesus, to his family, to his followers. The plot to hand-over Jesus has been put in motion. What does Jesus do? He gives the directions to faithfully observe the Passover rituals of his Jewish faith. After all, he was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and will die a Jew.
Would I do the same if I knew I was nearing the end of my earthly life? I don't know, but it gives me pause to wonder. Sometimes Christian churches observe a traditional Seder meal in memory of the last supper. Sometimes, we have recreated the last hours and walked to Calvary with Jesus. As a child and teen, my family observed three hours of absolute silence from noon to 3 o'clock on Good Friday. However we choose to remember, these next days are deep spiritual ones. We must not forget nor treat them casually.
And so, it begins. The beginning of the end. Or so it seems. But we know the 'rest of the story. That the suffering, deep grief and hopelessness of the next few days is temporary. For we serve a risen Savior! Ginger Mason
2 Cor 9: 7" Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (NIV)
Today's Upper Room devotion contains the word tithe. A word that immediately, at least for Don and me, causes stress. Is that because we only think about a tithe as financial contributions to church? Maybe.
But when I consider the T-word as giving just a tiny portion of what God has blessed me with - gifts of time, talent, and resources, my heart, and head, is filled with gratitude. And I can begin to slowly open my tightly closed fist and give up my fear of 'never enough.'
There was a photo on Facebook this week. It said, "The earth provides enough to satisfy every person's need, but not every person's greed." When do I stop gathering more than I need, more than my portion, and begin to share, with a cheerful heart, what I have been given? Give ten percent, and keep ninety? Not much when I think, especially during Holy Week, about all God has given to me, to everyone - the gift of his son, Jesus, so we could know that God's love for his creation has no limits.
God gives not 10%, but 100%. Ginger Mason
1John 1:7a "[B]ut if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another...."
Today’s Upper Room reading is from a collector of flashlights who then compares the light provided by the flashlight to Jesus, the light of the world.
One night at Trinity’s Christmas Eve candlelight worship, as usual, the sanctuary lights were turned off and we were plunged into darkness. It was as the flame, begun by the Christ candle, was passed from hand to hand that I became aware that the darkest spot was below my lighted candle. It was only when I moved my candle close to others at my side that their light diffused the darkness in which I was standing.
Think, too, about when we use a flashlight to penetrate the dark. Where is it darkest? Everywhere behind the beam of the light! We remain in darkness until someone shines a beam on us.
I need others in my life to share their light with me so that I begin to see my own darkness. It is in fellowship with others who live in the light of God’s love that my darkness begins to lighten. Thank you to all the light holders in my life. Ginger Mason