Home > Faith, Spirituality > Tell Me the Story (Part Four)

Tell Me the Story (Part Four)

Why is there a break in the crucifixion story? We observe Good Friday and celebrate the triumph over the grave on Easter Sunday. What happened in the middle?

The fierce drama of the religious leaders’ pursuit of Jesus and their desire to silence Him moves at a steady tempo. Arrested at Gethsemane, accused before Pilate, questioned by Herod before being sent back to Pilate. When Pilate announced to the crowd that he had found no fault in him and gave them the choice between Jesus and the criminal Barabbas, they chose to free Barabbas over Jesus. They led Him to Calvary and there, between two thieves, nailed Him to the cross for Him to die.

Dying by crucifixion was a slow, agonizing death, taking hours or possibly days for the person to succumb to asphyxia, cardiac rupture, or other factors. But as the start of the Sabbath was drawing near, the priests were anxious to finish the crucifixion. One way to hasten the death of the victims was to break their legs.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and they might be taken away.

Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and to the other which was crucified with him.

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. (John 19:31-33)

The Matthew account records that Joseph of Arimathaea was given permission to take the body of Jesus which he moved to a new tomb in a garden, wrapped it in a linen cloth, rolled a stone across the sepulcher (tomb), and departed. Outside the tomb a guard was set at the entrance to ensure the disciples did not sneak back to the tomb and remove the body of Jesus and claim He is risen from the dead, as the chief priests feared.

Luke provided other details. In the midst of their grief, the women came also to see where Jesus would be laid. They prepared spices and ointments for the immediate care of the body of their Lord. They would return, after the Sabbath, to finish the burial ritual of the body. The women rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Jesus “rested” in the tomb over the Sabbath. The break in the Easter story is not so much of a break as it is a holy Sabbath rest.

Categories: Faith, Spirituality
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