There is nothing in the Bible about what happens on the Sabbath between the crucifixion and the resurrection. But it must have been a day of tears. Even if the day was bright and sunny, it was a dark night of the soul for the followers of Jesus. Maybe it shouldn’t have been. They should have believed what Jesus had told them over and over again: that He was going to die on the cross, and then be raised on the third day. They should have believed it, but they didn’t. And surely Jesus knew they wouldn’t when He kept telling them.
Imagine for a moment what these people had been through on Friday. Imagine the impact on them to watch what they watched. It is deeply disturbing to watch someone die. It is much more disturbing to watch someone die on a cross. It was designed to be disturbing. The cross was Rome’s way of warning people not to buck Rome. It was ultimate torture combined with ultimate humiliation. Watching a crucifixion was the kind of thing which would give nightmares even to strong and stable people.
Now let’s add to this pain the grief of who they saw crucified. Many of us know how hard it is to lose someone we love. Even when they’re 90 years old, it’s painful to watch them die. But we all know it is even more painful to lose someone in the prime of life. But let’s add to this how much they loved Him. He was the most loveable man who ever walked the earth. And then let’s also add how they had staked all their hope on Him. So they were not only losing their loved one, they were losing their Savior. It looked like the bad guys had won. It looked like the hypocrites had won. It looked like the forces of evil had won.
And added to their pain was their confusion. It looked like Jesus had let them win. He was so strong. He stood against storms. He stood against the Jewish leaders. He stood against evil spirits. He did not back down. And then all of a sudden, it’s like He melted. It’s like He gave up. He stopped resisting; He stopped fighting.
Adding all this up, you have a heap of grief, agony beyond description, beyond imagination. Their hearts were raw. Their hands were shaky. Their minds were in shock. These are the people who woke up that Sunday morning.
And boy was God about to turn the tables! Was He about to bring light out of darkness! Was He about to turn their mourning into dancing! Was God about to snatch victory — not out of the JAWS of defeat, but out of the BELLY of defeat.
For two days they had been dying. For two days their hearts had been bleeding out. In light of all this, think about what it was like for these women when the angel met them and said, “He is risen.” Think about what it was like for them when the Lord Himself met them and said, “Greetings!” And now in a moment’s time they gained far more life than they had lost in two days of heartbreak. No wonder “they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.” And this wasn’t just about what it meant for them but what it meant for the whole world. These women represented mankind beholding its hope, its Savior, its victory over death.