The day after the crucifixion was Saturday, the Sabbath. Holy Saturday!

We do not know how the disciples of Jesus spent that day, but undoubtedly they did observe the Sabbath. One can imagine that they were all fearful that the authorities might show up to arrest them wherever they were hiding. The Bible does not tell us where they spent the day but many believe that they did spend it together, perhaps where they had met with Jesus for the last time in the room where they celebrated the Passover and ‘Last Supper.’

The Burial of Jesus

According to John, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had taken the body of Jesus after his death and had hurriedly prepared his body and placed it in a nearby tomb. Remember, the Sabbath was coming quickly at sundown. So they had very little time in order to wrap the body of Jesus and get him in the tomb. 

John 19:38-42 (ESV):

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus[a] by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds[b] in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Luke tells us that there were women close to Jesus who wanted to take special care of the body. They followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb to see where they placed Jesus. The woman planned to come back on Sunday to do a more thorough job of preparing the body:

Luke 23:55-56 (ESV):

55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

The Chief Priests Want the Tomb Guarded

Meanwhile, the chief priests went before Pilate the next day in order to make sure the tomb of Jesus was secured and guarded by soldiers:

Matthew 27:62-66 (ESV):

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Sunday Morning Early

The women went back to the tomb on Sunday and that is the beginning of Resurrection Day (Easter). But the tomb was empty!

Mark 16:1 (ESV):

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

The women were the first on the scene to see the empty tomb. But when they returned to where the apostles and the rest of the disciples were staying, their report was not well received:

Luke 24:11 (ESV):

 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Reactions of the Disciples to The Death of Jesus

The reactions of the disciples to the report of the women on Sunday morning gives us a major clue about how the apostles and rest of the close disciples were responding to the death of Jesus. They obviously did not expect Jesus to be resurrected. This leaves us with the conclusion that the disciples believed it was all over when Jesus died on the cross.

They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah and had given up everything to travel with him for 3 years. They had witnessed him do incredible miracles and healings, even bring back folks from the dead. But now it was over and they feared for their own lives, expecting the authorities to come soon for the rest of them any moment.  

They had expected Jesus to take over the nation, conquer the Romans, and eventually become the ruler of the world like the prophets had foretold. But now he was dead and it was all over. Even during Passover and the Lord’s Supper they argued among themselves over who would be the greatest among themselves as the number two ruler on the right hand of King Jesus. But it was all over and what were they going to do now.

Now these silly women were believing that some miracle had happened because the stone was rolled away and somebody had stolen his body.But someone among the disciples observed:

Didn’t Jesus predict his own death a couple of days before Passover? What exactly did he say after all? Does anyone remember?:

Matthew 26:1-2 (ESV):

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Also, remember when the woman poured all that expensive ointment over Jesus, didn’t he say it was for his soon burial?

Mark 14:8 (ESV):

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Possible Discussion Among the Disciples

But that can’t be right, who ever heard of the Messiah dying and being buried. We must have been wrong about Jesus—no real Messiah would die.

But weren’t there other times that he said he was going to his death and yet claimed to be the Messiah anyway? I also think I remember him saying something about coming back from the dead in three days?

But that is just crazy, the real Messiah was supposed to bring everyone else back and rule forever. Jesus must not have been the one after all.

We don’t know exactly what the disciples said among themselves after the crucifixion of Jesus, but some of the previous arguments were probably pretty close to their thinking since they quickly rejected what the women reported early on Sunday morning.

Jesus had predicted his own death and also his resurrection after three day enough that even the Chief Priests were concerned enough to go to Pilate on the Sabbath to make sure his tomb was secure. Yet the disciples were not expecting the resurrection themselves and discounted the ‘empty tomb’ report of the women.

They were more concerned with their own agenda (Who’s the Greatest) and scenario which did not include a dead Messiah. They were in shock and in mourning and the report of an empty tomb was not going to change their mind or mood.

My favorite popular Resurrection Day (Easter) song is He’s Alive, written and performed by Don Francisco and later by Dolly Parton. The lyrics might give us a good clue to the mood and thinking of the disciples during Saturday and early Sunday morning, particularly that of Peter and John:

He’s Alive (Lyrics)

The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow and half in fear, the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through to drag us all away

Then just before the sunrise, I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle, and a voice began to call
I hurried to the window and looked down to the street
Expecting swords and torches and the sound of soldiers feet

But there was no one there but Mary, so I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me as she told us where she’d been
She said, “They moved him in the night and none of us knows where
Oh, the stones been rolled away, and now his body isn’t there”

So we both ran toward the garden, then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and the empty tomb just the way that Mary said
But the winding sheet they wrapped him in was just an empty shell
And how or where they’d taken him, it was more than I could tell

Perhaps something strange had happened there, just what I did not know
John believed a miracle, but I just turned to go
Circumstance and speculation couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him and then saw Him die

Back inside the house again, the guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name
And even if He was alive, it could never be the same

It all changes for them and us forever when Jesus shows up alive on Resurrection Sunday:

He’s Alive (Continued)

Then suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room
Then Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees and clung to Him and cried

Then He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him like sunlight from the sky
Guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace

‘Cause He is (alive and alive, He’s alive, alive, and alive, He’s alive)
(Alive and alive, He’s alive, He’s alive)
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive, and I’m forgiven
Heavens gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive, and I’m forgiven
Heavens gates are open wide
He’s alive (He’s alive), He’s alive (He’s alive), He’s alive (He’s alive), and I’m forgiven
Heavens gates are open wide

He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive, and I’m forgiven
Heavens gates are open wide
He’s alive
He’s alive (He’s alive), He’s alive (He’s alive), He’s alive (He’s alive), and I’m forgiven
Heavens gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive, and I’m forgiven (He’s alive)
Heavens gates are open wide
He’s alive

Happy Holy Saturday. Tomorrow we celebrate the Resurrection Day (Easter) of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is alive! After nearly 2,000 years He is still alive indeed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *