Thinking about that first Easter, 2000ish years ago... can you imagine just how bleak and black the Sabbath between our Savior's death and resurrection would have been? Imagine being a disciple, a "talmidim" of His. At the time when you were happy, celebrating your people's deliverance from Egypt, rejoicing in God's provision and might... your best friend, the one you THOUGHT would deliver and provide for all of Israel- especially you-- was suddenly, irretrivably gone. You had been a coward; you'd fled, you'd hidden, you'd watched. You'd heard his cries as his knees slammed into the hill under the weight of a crossbeam, heard his scream of agony as nails pierced flesh and nerve, watched him struggle to just breathe one more time... heard him ask for water, and then you'd seen him die. You'd taken down his broken, bloody, swollen, naked body and cried over the final frailty of it. Where was the strength, the creativity, the skill of the Carpenter now? Where was his comforting voice, his piercingly wise words? And worst of all, where was HE? You were his disciple, supposed to follow him everywhere (some followed their rabbis even into the bathroom!)... and what had he said on that blur of the last night? "Where I go you cannot follow..."? What would happen now?
Can you imagine "celebrating" the Sabbath, the feast of First Fruits, without Jesus? Trying to worship with your whole understanding of God's will and promises totally confused? Trying to meditate on Truth with your Rabbi, your teacher dead? Talk about an empty Sabbath day. The bread must have been like glue in their mouths. Did they even try to sing prayers, or were they just holding each other and crying? As one of my story Bibles puts it, they thought "we will cry and be sad forever."
What a picture of Religion without Christ; of the Law-even God's own perfect law!- without its Fulfillment alive and well. How vain and empty our own obedience is without His, how meaningless our symbols and celebrations if He did not rise from the dead.
And how different their NEXT Sabbath must have been! How amazed and joyful and full of understanding, of realization! "Hah! We thought it was all over, but it was just beginning! Now we see that every single bit of the Law was meant to point to this-- His rising again!!"
May we- may I- never practice my faith as if He had not risen already!