The Bible doesn’t say much about the Saturday between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Luke 23:56 says, “But (Jesus’ followers) rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”
John and Mark don’t mention anything about Saturday, at all.
But, Matthew 27:62-66 says, “The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. ‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”
Notice the difference?
On the Sabbath day, between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the followers of Jesus rested – as is the intent of the Sabbath – while the priests and Pharisees were hard at work, sealing the tomb of a dead man.
Work on the Sabbath, violates the Fourth Commandment.
Obviously, Jesus’ followers were exhausted, brokenhearted, mourning, and possibly afraid to be seen in public. Their Sabbath, wasn’t a joyful one. But, the contrast between the two groups is stark. In spite of successfully defeating Jesus (or, so they thought), the priests and Pharisees were still “working” against him on the Sabbath.
“But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.'” (Isaiah 57:20-21)
Which makes me wonder. When Jesus and the disciples observed the Passover, the night before the crucifixion, did the priests and Pharisees? Or, were they too busy for the Passover, plotting, planning and preparing for Jesus’ arrest? Even if they took the time to eat the Passover meal, were they paying attention to the story? Or, did they gobble it down in haste, mumbling the prayers, and then on to carrying out their evil mission?
Not observing the Passover, violates one of Israel’s most holy days.
No wonder Jesus called them hypocrites.
The literal definition of a hypocrite is someone who lives behind a mask. They present an appearance that does not match the true intention. Thus Jesus called the Pharisees “white-washed” tombs – clean on the outside, but full of death.
The experts in the Law, broke the Law. But, the ones considered law breakers, by following Jesus, were actually much closer to the heart and spirit of the Law, even in their grief.
Then, on Easter morning, when the tomb was miraculously opened, “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” (Matthew 28:12-15)
Lies, and more lies. Isn’t there a commandment about that, too?
But, in spite of their lying, and bribing, and scheming; in spite of their very best efforts to suppress the Truth; in spite of having an innocent man put to death; even sacrificing their own Laws and customs as they did it; there was nothing the priests and Pharisees could do to thwart Jesus’ mission.
They killed him. That was Jesus’ plan.
They violated the Passover. Jesus was the Passover.
They lied. Jesus is the Truth.
They sealed a dead body in a tomb. The grave couldn’t hold him down.
They worked on the Sabbath. So did God, defeating death and raising the son.
They thought they’d won. The victory belongs to Jesus.
And, while all of this was happening – the Pharisees scurrying and Jesus’ followers mourning – Jesus lay in his grave. Dead. Wrapped in strips of linen, laid on a cold, hard slab of rock. Hidden, in the dark, behind a large stone. Even in his death, the Pharisees felt threatened.
Imagine – just imagine – if any of them knew what was about to happen.