The tomb is still occupied. The Marys and the other followers of Jesus have nothing to do but sit in their grief since it is still shabbat, the Sabbath. They have nothing more to do but sit with their thoughts and feelings about what happened yesterday. If they are anything like me – or many human beings, I believe – they can do nothing but process their thoughts and feelings, and so they sit, reliving over and over the trauma that happened yesterday. Yesterday, when their friend, teacher, and Lord was crucified. When he suffered in agony and eventually died on that cross. When Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. When Joseph buried him in the new tomb he had personally carved out of stone. In fact, it was so unbelievable that the Marys just sat in front of the tomb last night until it was time to go home.
Today they can’t do anything. It’s shabbat. They can’t cook or clean or work. Today is the day dedicated to reveling in God’s presence. Shabbat is when they focus on the truth, the gift, that God is the One who orders the universe. God is the one who brought them out of bondage in Egypt and freed them for life in the Promised Land. God is the one who delivered them from exile and offered them hope of returning home, when they thought all hope was lost. Funny. It probably doesn’t feel that way for them today. Hope feels lost today. Jesus is dead and lying in a tomb. Yet, the disciples recall what Jesus said on the way to Jerusalem last week,
“Look, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and legal experts. They will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be ridiculed, tortured, and crucified. But he will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 20:18-19).
He did say that, didn’t he?
So now they wait. Breath sealed up in their lungs like Jesus’ body in that tomb. Hoping with everything in them that what Jesus said was true. Wanting to believe their Lord, but also sitting in the stark reality of his death. Going back and forth between hope and doubt. He said he’d rise from the dead, but today the tomb is occupied.
So today they will sit in the darkness, in the valley of the shadow of death, and wait for daybreak. Maybe, just maybe then…
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)