Good Friday & the Final Sabbath

Good Friday leaves us at the tomb, where Jesus is laid to rest. It is the day of preparation before the sabbath. All that can be done has been done. Christ, like a seed, has been planted in the ground. We must wait for the bud of new life to spring forth. The day Christ spends in the tomb is a silent day, but one rich in significance. The sabbath is the seventh day, the day of completion. In Genesis, God rested on the seventh day. In Exodus he commands his people to do the same, pausing their labors to engage in a different kind of work, the work of praising and glorifying God. It is a reminder for us of our ultimate end, that we were not made to toil in this world but to know, love, and serve our Father in heaven. 

When we read of the six days of creation in Genesis, the description of each day ends with the same formula. “Evening came, morning followed —the first day… Evening came, morning followed — the second day…” and so on for all six days, but not on the seventh. On the seventh day there was no “evening came, morning followed.” The seventh day is not brought to a close. Everything we read in the Old Testament, from Adam and Eve, to Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and David and Solomon, Elijah and all the prophets, the whole story of God’s revelation to the chosen people — all that happens on the seventh day. God is not idle on the seventh day; He is working to establish his people.

But now, as Christ hangs on the cross, the sun is darkened for three hours. Evening has come on the seventh day. With the words, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30), Christ enters into his final sabbath rest. Now we wait for morning to come and a new day to dawn — the eighth day of creation. “Behold, I make all things new,” he says (Rev 21:5). This eighth day of creation is the first day of a new creation. Sunday, the day of the resurrection, is both the eighth day and the first day of the week, and so we keep it as the Lord’s Day. Christ, in his resurrection, reveals himself as the new Adam, the first fruit of this new creation. Unlike the old Adam whose sin excluded his children from paradise, the sacrifice of the new Adam opens the gate to a new heaven and new earth. This is why baptismal fonts traditionally have eight sides, because we are baptized into this eighth day of creation.

The sun of that day has not fully risen, but we can see the first rays of its dawn. If we stand in its light we can feel its warmth. But we are not there yet. Today is the day of preparation. Today we are at the tomb. All the needful work has been completed. Jesus is at rest. Let us rest with him as we await the coming of a new dawn.