At the crucifixion of Jesus, three women stood watching: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome, the mother of James and John. It was a tearful and emotionally shattering moment.
Each of these women held Jesus deeply in her heart as His bloody, beaten body hung lifeless on the cross. Their hopes were dashed. Their spirits were broken.
Can you imagine the grief these women experienced as they watched the crucifixion? Yet after Jesus breathed His last, they returned to their homes with one more mission for Jesus in mind: They must anoint His body for burial.
This would be their final act of love for Jesus. Luke 23:56 (NLT) says, “They went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.”
With their last task remaining unfinished, they rested. While their feelings were still raw, their adrenaline still high, they rested. They couldn’t bear the thought of Jesus lying in the tomb without His body being properly prepared for burial – nevertheless, they rested.
“They rested.” I wonder how often that could be said of you and me. Perhaps we love the Lord and have given our lives for the Gospel, but how often would a writer pen those words about us?
A Twisted Work Ethic
Many of us were raised in an environment where work was the expected daily routine. We didn’t stop until the work was finished.
However, the work of life and ministry is never really finished, is it? There is always something more to do. And with our ingrained work ethic, we tend to keep going until we think the work is done.
But that’s not what these women of Galilee did. Instead of frantically trying to complete the task at hand, they rested. Why? Because they understood the Sabbath to be both a gift and a requirement from God. The Master had taught them that the Sabbath was made for them, and not them for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
So they rested.
It’s hard to have a healthy view of rest if you have an unhealthy view of who you are. In God’s Kingdom, being comes first, and doing only comes out of that being.
Why does an eternal, omnipotent, inexhaustible God rest? He rested after creating the universe as an expression of His own worth and value. Instead of rest being a deficiency in His productivity, this rest was a statement of who God is. And having created us in His image and His likeness, our Heavenly Father has ordained a Sabbath rest for us as well.
A Change of Assignment
With everything they had on their hearts, it’s stunning that the women at the cross rested. Their devotion was heartfelt. Their efforts on Jesus’ behalf were sincere. Yet this time they were called to a fast from activity.
Notice that it was while the women rested that God did His supernatural miracle in the tomb. During this pause in human activity, Jesus was resurrected – a reality that totally transformed the women’s assignment. No longer did they need to anoint a lifeless body. Now they were assigned to announce a risen Savior!
Hallelujah! That same assignment is given to us today. No longer are we attending to graves and dead bodies. Our Lord is resurrected, and this has transformed our purpose in life. The stone has been rolled away, and we join the angels in pointing to an empty tomb.
Can you hear what the angels are saying?
Jesus has risen! The victory is won, and it’s time to celebrate and spread the news.
But as you consider Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His glorious resurrection, don’t forget to rest in Him. That’s the best way to declare your trust in His power to bring even dead things back to life.
Claude Alexander serves as senior pastor for The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Learn more at TheParkMinistries.org.