Silent Sabbath

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 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 23:50-56

Friday, before the sun set, Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’s body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a new tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other women watched the burial, mourned, and planned to return after the sabbath to cover the body in spices and perfumes.

Imagine the looks of silent shock around the shabbat dinner Friday night. Imagine the silence of Saturday.

It was meant to be a day of rest, but I imagine it was a day of restlessness for the followers of Jesus. Their rabbi, their Messiah, their King, their hope for freedom from Roman occupation was dead. One of their closest friends, Judas, had turned Jesus over to the Jewish leaders and then committed suicide. One of the leaders of their band of brothers, Peter, had just denied even knowing Jesus in the moment when Jesus needed him most. Everyone else seemed to scatter except the women and the beloved disciple John.

What just happened?

Everything happened so fast. Have you ever had one of those moments of confusion and disillusionment that seemed to move faster than your thoughts and feelings could process? When things finally slow down, as they did that sabbath, everything comes rushing back. Flashes of scenes play through your mind.

Jesus in the Gethsemane agonizing in prayer.

The soldiers marching toward them with torches.

Jesus getting struck on the face.

The mock trial.

The early morning pronouncement of Pilate that left them in shock.

The beaten and bloodied image of Jesus stumbling up to Golgotha.

His eyes.

What was on his head?

The clank of metal on metal met with screams of pain.

Our Savior hanging there.

The smell of blood and death.

The lifeless body.

The dark tomb.

All the images flashing in their minds on repeat. Then the questions. How could this happen? Why would God let this happen? This can’t be God’s plan. Why didn’t God stop this? What do we do now? How can I go back to my old life? Will the Romans come for us next? The Jewish leaders know us. Are they going to hunt us down? What about my kids? What are we going to do?

Silence.

They couldn’t have known that while they were feeling defeated, Jesus was defeating death.
All they knew was silence.

Sometimes God does His best work in the quiet of disillusionment…

…if we would only hold on until morning.

Good Question

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 

Matthew 22:29

The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they tried to trap Jesus with a theologically difficult hypothetical situation. They wove this complex story that they thought would trap Jesus.

Jesus responds with the above reply. He tells them that the question itself is based off of faulty assumptions and that the question itself is in error. He would then go on to give them an answer to their question and challenge their assumptions about the resurrection.

But we should stop and notice that it wasn’t the answer that the Sadducees got wrong; it was their question that they got wrong. If we ask questions that are filled with faulty assumptions and poor understandings then it doesn’t matter the answer; any and all answers will be in error. Jesus had to correct their question before He corrected their answer.

Notice why their question was in error. Jesus lists two reasons: 1) they didn’t know the Scriptures and 2) they didn’t know the power of God. In other words, if we don’t have a working knowledge of BOTH the Scriptures and the power of God we’ll not only get our answers wrong, we’ll ask questions that are full of error.

How many evangelicals know the Scriptures but have no understanding of God’s power? How many charismatics have understanding of God’s power but have no understanding of the Scriptures? How many mainline protestants have no working knowledge of either? We shouldn’t then be surprised when the questions people are asking are full of error, not to mention their answers.

If you’ve never operated in the power of God, then learn from those who have. It’s arrogance to do otherwise. If you don’t know much about the Bible, then learn from those who do. It’s arrogance to do otherwise. Only then will we start to ask good questions, questions that lead to the truth instead of questions that lead to unbelief and doubt.

For example, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is a question that is full of error. It assumes the people are good and puts God’s goodness on trial, as if God should prove Himself to us, and yet our goodness goes without question. Can you see how arrogant this question is? Can you see how full of error it is? Once you ask such a poorly framed question, you’re bound to get a bad answer.

Yet, we know people are not “good” but are full of sin. We know people do all kinds of evil in the world. We know secret sins of every kind abound. Yet, God can only and always be perfectly good. So His goodness is never on trial. He never has to prove Himself to humanity (especially not after what He did on the cross).

So a better question would be “Why do so many good things happen to all of us who are so deeply messed up?” This is a good question, one worth pondering. And ultimately, while our goodness is on trial (as it should be), God is revealed for who He really is–a loving and gracious Father, slow to anger and abounding in love.

If you ask bad questions, you’re bound to get bad answers. Are there questions that you’ve been asking that are full of error? Do they need to get reframed in light of truth?

If we want to ask good questions, we must know the Scriptures and the power of God. Only then will our questions align with the truth. And God is pleased to answer all of our questions aligned with the truth.