Hope in the Waiting

It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. – (Luke 23:54-56, NIV)

It was late on Preparation Day. When the sun went down, the Sabbath day would begin. The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus followed Joseph. They saw the tomb. Inside they saw where he put Jesus’ body. Then they left to prepare some sweet-smelling spices to put on the body. On the Sabbath day they rested, as commanded in the Law of Moses. – (Luke 23:54-56, ERV)

It was Preparation Day – the day before the holy Sabbath – and it was about to begin at sundown. The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required. – (Luke 23:54-56, VOICE)

When I ponder the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I imagine a sense of mourning and anticipation. The women who had been with Jesus from the beginning, had just witnessed the death of their Savior. Rather than running off in their sorrow, they waited and watched to see what they might do next to honor Him. In anticipation, they followed Joseph, the upright man from the Council, who had gone to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body so that he might properly place Jesus in a tomb. When the ladies knew where Jesus was laid, they went home to prepare spices to give the Savior a proper burial. However, as soon as the sun went down it was the Sabbath, and the time of rest and waiting began. It is in that space of rest, that I cannot help but imagine what it all was like. Grief, anticipation, remembering… The women had walked beside Jesus and lived and learned what a sinless life could be, only to see it cut short by the cross. Despite their anguish, they arrived at the conclusion that there was purpose for them to fulfill. Preparation Day was full of preparing for so much more than they could have ever imagined. Today, this day between the crucifixion and the resurrection, we have time to purposefully ponder all that Jesus did for us. Our sin and shame were buried with Him in that tomb, waiting to burst forth with new life, intended for all. May we look to the cross with thanksgiving for all that was placed upon Him, and look ahead with anticipation, to all that tomorrow brings. New life and eternal hope are ours to behold, if only we seek the Savior.

His death on the cross,

And all they had seen;

Lost, seeking purpose,

What did it all mean?

The women in wait,

Watched, followed to see;

Where was their Savior,

What might the Lord need?

Laid in a new tomb,

His location known;

Christ’s body broken,

Somber and alone.

A day to prepare,

To honor the Lord;

They did what they knew,

All time would afford.

Then came the waiting,

Such sorrow unknown;

Grief and a purpose,

Their hope felt postponed.

Soon to discover,

All hope was not lost;

The Savior would rise,

From death on that cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for new life in us. Jesus, thank You that though we lose sight of hope in the waiting, it is simply a time to pause and anticipate the new that is coming. Forgive us for forgetting the power You have. The very One who defeated death is always working on our behalf, and will never leave us nor forsake us. Teach us to trust You more, even in the spaces that seem like we are waiting in darkness. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that hope may rise, even in the darkest tombs in our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for how You endured the cross for our sake, and praise You for the power in You that overcame death to rise again. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14

Agony and Wonder

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. – (Matthew 27:50-51, NIV)

Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. – (Matthew 27:50-51, ERV)

Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart. – (Matthew 27:50-51, TPT)

Good Friday was a day full of agony and wonder. Jesus endured tremendous suffering in the temple courts, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the soldiers, and went on carrying His cross to the horror on the hill. There Jesus was hung upon a cross between two criminals, mocked and rejected, yet all the while chose to remain in place for a purpose. Not only did He bear the weight of all our sin, but He cried out for God to forgive all who caused Him to endure the agony upon the cross. When He had accomplished all that was intended, He cried out to God and gave up His Spirit. Darkness had overcome the land, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split apart. The tearing of the veil was incredibly significant, as the split opened the curtain to the Holiest of Holies, thus removing the barrier between God and people. Christ’s death on the cross removed the sin and shame that had been cause of the need for the barrier from the beginning. Because He bore our sin and shame, our own behavior that created the divide between us and God, had been removed. In the same way that the rocks were shaken and split, our hearts ought to be stirred to split away from that which keeps us from closeness with Christ. May we be intentional to look to all that Christ endured upon the cross, and give Him praise with awe and wonder at the depth of love that would compel Him to bear all of our sin and make the way for a right relationship with God.

Willing to suffer,

He bore all our sin;

To open the way,

Let new life begin.

It was through His pain,

And all He endured;

That we’ve been made clean,

Granted hope secure.

The goodness that day,

Was promised in three;

A soon empty tomb,

Power to set free.

Let’s look to the cross,

Thank the Lord with praise;

Receive forgiveness,

True hope for all days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible love that sacrificed and endured for our sake. Jesus, thank You for suffering in our place to make the way for relationships to be restored with You. Forgive us for every portion of pain that our thoughts, words and deeds heaped upon You on the cross. Teach us to live in the freedom of forgiveness and grace that grows our hearts to love like You. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your heart visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done, still do, and will continue to do, to make the path clear as we seek to serve and honor You. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2