19:41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
I struggled with these verses. I couldn't see anything of deep significance yet experience has taught me that it was there. Some meals are quick to whip together, others take time. Some projects come together without a hitch, while others take months of planning or more and problems pop up all along the way. Jesus did not say we'd find Him when we flip a couple of pages or memorize a verse. He said we'd find Him after we've searched for Him with all of our hearts. Today I had to ask, seek, and knock. Here's what He showed me:
Garden: Garden of Eden. The mess we are in started in a garden and Jesus planted the Seed that will end the mess in a garden. Tombs are caves or holes in the earth. Jesus is placed in a tomb that has never been used because He has walked a path that has never been walked and finished a thing that has never been done. There has never been a death like this one because there has never been a life like this one. From the beginning of the mess created in that first garden His arrival has been described as a Seed. Seeds as Jesus explained must die and be buried. This is what brings new life. Jesus is the Seed and His death and burial will "bless all the nations". Peter insisted Jesus must not die but seeds that are not planted do not produce anything.
The tomb was close. It was right there. The tree that started the mess was close, right in the midst of the garden. Everything in life is close. We don't need to climb a mountain in Tibet to find ourselves. Most car accidents occur within 5 miles of home. Most sex crimes are committed by a family member or friend. Jesus said "You will search for Me and find Me when you search with all your heart even though I was never far from you." The prodigal son traveled far and tried everything only to discover the hole in his heart could only be filled at home. He is close. The Seed of what you are searching for is so close.
It was good that the tomb was so close. It was Friday afternoon. Jesus died at 3 pm. The sun would set by 6 pm. Preparing His body took time and it all had to be completed by sunset. Sunset marks the end of the day. "There was evening and there was morning the first day... there was evening and morning the second day... there was evening and there was morning the sixth day... and the seventh day God rested from all He had done... He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it."
We Seventh-day Adventists know when the Sabbath is. Sadly we have lost sight too often of what the Sabbath is. The Sabbath represents the completion of a mission. It represents the period of time when people can relax because the task is ended. More than that it represents a task that has been completed for us. Adam and Eve rested on their first full day because God had finished everything for them the six previous days.
When God reintroduced the Sabbath to the fleeing slaves in Exodus 16 He did it by providing food for them in a miraculous way. Food they didn't have to plant or harvest. He started on the first day of the week. Each day the food disappeared and the next morning there was a fresh batch. If they tried to gather extra and keep it, it rotted, stank, and was full of worms. He had told them not to keep it but some tried anyway because they didn't trust that there would be more the next day. There was no need to gather and store extra because each morning there was a fresh supply. Then on the 6th day, what we call Friday, what the Jews called the Preparation Day, God said to gather extra and keep it. He said on the seventh day they could rest. There would be no need to get up early and gather food for the day because what He supplied on Friday would never go bad and it would be enough. They could rest.
Jesus finished His mission on Friday. Sabbath, the day of rest, is a weekly reminder that Jesus' mission was completed and complete. Nothing can be added. Nothing can be taken away. His life, death, and burial was the Seed of a revolution. The dawn of a new Day. The beginning of our journey back to a garden described in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. We are living in the time period between the planting of the Seed and the harvest of this world. Some crop cycles take a few weeks. Some take years. This crop cycle we are in has taken nearly 2000 years. The skeptics say the harvest won't come. The skeptics said there would be no fresh food on the 2nd day and what was gathered on Friday wouldn't keep for Sabbath. The skeptics said Jesus wouldn't die. The skeptics say a lot of things but life never came from the mouth of a skeptic. Life came from the breath of God and He is far more committed to the harvest of the earth than we can imagine. He stood by while we planted the Seed. "For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but will live for eternity."
That's a love you can rest in.