Blue Laws

Luke 23:56b “But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”

Observation: Jesus had been crucified, after which Joseph of Aramathea had removed the body from the Cross, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a garden tomb. John expands the story to tell us that Joseph was helped by Nicodemus who brought seventy-five pounds of aloe and spices (Jn. 19:39) which they applied as they wrapped Jesus’ body with strips of the cloth. Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, along with others (Jn. 19:25) watched Joseph and Nicodemus place the body in the tomb, then returned home to prepare their own spices and perfume for a more proper burial. Then the Word says, “…they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”

Application: They took a day off? These women had just watched the degradation and execution of the king of the universe, yet they waited twenty-four hours before going back to the tomb to perform more complete burial services on the body. His own mother, His dear friend Mary Magdalene and others faced the most urgent task, the most important privilege of their lives, but they took off a day for rest? What in Heaven’s name could have caused this bizarre behavior?

Simply, obedience to the commandment. God had said, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8)

Does it strain credulity that these women would delay the most monumental engagement of their lives? With today’s frenetic pace, don’t the weekends become consumed with tasks I couldn’t get to during the week…mowing lawns, shopping, cutting firewood, beach parties, harvesting grain? Oh, I may take a couple of hours to attend church, but do I really observe a Sabbath rest? And what of that hugely important business meeting scheduled for Monday morning? Would I think twice about flying through two time zones to be available for it? What exactly are the most important things of my life? The answer is found in what I do, not what I say.

Should these women have blessed God by tending to His body even as they violated the very commandments He died to fulfill? I wonder: what would I have done in their place? What do I do today when my to-do list contains entries far less profound? Do there remain any blue laws of the heart?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, this verse causes me to mournfully reflect upon my commitment to You. You love the commandments and You honored them to the smallest detail. Make me like You, Lord. Forgive my casual approach to that for which You gave Your life.

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