It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn't want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they didn't break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (John 19:31-34 NLT)
That image would have been burned into their minds. They winced when he was beaten. They watched him suffer. They saw him die. Grief is a strange thing. It overwhelms like a tidal wave, yet it slowly comes in like the tide that changes everything. When the emotional, shock-driven weeping slowed down, all that was left behind was sadness. It was true. There was no denying it. Jesus was dead.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9-10 NIV)
How can this be? We were so sure. This was the one. He fulfilled the prophecies about the chosen one…the Messiah…the King. He was supposed to defeat our enemies, not be soundly defeated without even a battle. He was supposed to stop all war, not become the roadside victim of it. He was supposed to bring peace to all nations, not leave us under Roman Empire occupation. He was supposed to do so much that he did not do. Now it’s too late. Jesus is dead.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23:47-49 NIV)
It would not confuse so much, had he not been the one that he was. We would grieve, yes, but as one grieves for a close relative or a best friend. But this one promised to be so much more. His teachings stirred places in our hearts that we did not even know were there. His righteousness surpassed that of even the best teachers of the Law. His compassion offered hope to the worst and the weakest of us all. He was the one. We were sure he was the one. Now, Jesus is dead.
It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:54-56 NIV)
These may have been some of the thoughts that they struggled with on Saturday. It was the Sabbath. It was a day of rest. It was a day to reflect on the happenings of the week. It was a day to draw near to God. That Sabbath, it was a day of mourning the loss of their friend, their Messiah, and their King.
How about you? What kind of thought would you have had after watching and knowing: Jesus is dead.