50Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died.
51 At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. 52Graves opened, and many of God's people were raised to life. 53They left their graves, and after Jesus had risen to life, they went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people.
54The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, “This man really was God's Son!”
55 Many women had come with Jesus from Galilee to be of help to him, and they were there, looking on at a distance. 56Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were some of these women.
Jesus Is Buried
(Mark 15.42-47; Luke 23.50-56; John 19.38-42)
57That evening a rich disciple named Joseph from the town of Arimathea 58went and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate gave orders for it to be given to Joseph, 59who took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60Then Joseph put the body in his own tomb that had been cut into solid rock and had never been used. He rolled a big stone against the entrance to the tomb and went away.
61All this time Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb.
62On the next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. 63 They said, “Sir, we remember what this liar said while he was still alive. He claimed in three days he would come back from death. 64So please order the tomb to be carefully guarded for three days. If you don't, his disciples may come and steal his body. They will tell the people he has been raised to life, and this last lie will be worse than the first one.”
65Pilate said to them, “All right, take some of your soldiers and guard the tomb as well as you know how.”
The time in between Jesus’ death and resurrection seems so small, all these years later. In some of the gospels, no more than one or two sentences are devoted to it. But how excruciating it would have been to those who were closest to him; how hopeless they must have felt.
Throughout Matthew 27, you’ll notice all of Jesus’ main disciples seem to disappear during his sentencing, torture, and death. They felt so hopeless and afraid that they simply ran off, later locking themselves in a room, to avoid the world and its new reality.
And then we see the women – and I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such courage as was demonstrated by the women in this passage. These women had not only followed Jesus, but were there to help him (v. 55). Amidst violence, hopelessness, and fear, they still did not abandon their friend.
Still, both sets of people had lost hope. The women were no less disheartened than the men; their doubt just manifested in different ways. We know that they would later head to Jesus’ tomb to give him a proper burial, fully expecting him still to be dead, just as the chief priests and Pharisees did.
This time in between Jesus’ death and resurrection – this one day between utter loss and infinite hope – should not be overlooked. Here we see some of the people closest to Jesus stop believing. They knew Jesus intimately, had witnessed many of his miracles first-hand, and yet even they experienced a lapse in their faith.
On this day of in-between, if you are feeling in-between, know that you’re not alone; nor are you the first to experience this. Better yet: know that even when you stop believing, you are still loved, and tomorrow, even greater news awaits.
Compassionate Father, thank you for never giving up on me, even when I give up on you. Thank you for loving me through my unbelief. Make my faith stronger with every doubt you prove unfounded and every moment of in-between you help me through. Amen.