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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sabbath Rest

Easter Week highlights include Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. The culminating event for Good Friday is the burial of Jesus in Joseph’s tomb.

Here are a few depictions of that event in art works:


The week ends with the Saviour ceasing His work of redeeming lost mankind. He rested in the tomb, in the same way that as Creator He rested from six days labor in making the earth. This is expressed in the following liturgical selection:

"Today Thou dost keep holy the seventh day,
Which Thou has blessed of old by resting from Thy works.
Thou bringest all things into being and Thou makest all things new,
Observing the Sabbath rest, my Saviour, and restoring strength."

---Matins Canon of Holy and Great Saturday, Ode 4

Here is another reading on the significance of Christ's rest in the tomb:
"Great and Blessed Saturday"
"There finally came that "great and blessed Saturday" on March 18th, 34 A.D. - when the Only-begotten Son of God rested from all His deeds on earth. But there was no rest in Jerusalem: some were deprived of rest by their malice, while others could not rest because of heavy and oppressive sorrow.
"The enemies of Jesus continued to persecute Him even unto His grave, making sure to seal His tomb and putting guards around it.

"At the same time the Lord’s disciples suffered great sorrow: for all of them, except John the Theologian, had abandoned their Master and were now finding out from others about His last days - how He was humiliated, how He suffered horribly on the cross.
Bitter tears were shed by the apostle Peter, who had renounced the One Whom he had promised to love even unto death."
---Adapted from the monthly readings of St. Dimitri of Rostov - Russian Orthodox Church Baltimore, Maryland USA

Who will not fear you, O Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed."
Revelation 15:4 NIV

And it shall come to pass,
that from one new moon to another,
and from one sabbath to another,
shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
Isaiah 66:23 KJV

Here is a painting by Jean-Jacques Henner, "Jesus at the Tomb" done in 1879:

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works,
as God did from his.
Heb 4:9,10

The sadness experienced by the disciples of Jesus as He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath was followed by the joy of His resurrection and a new phase of His kingdom. May we all take part in His triumph over sin and death.

1 comment:

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

Very nice post.

Have a very Happy Easter!