(Kari has a Saturday reflection here: The Quiet Wait.)
When the crucifixion of Jesus was complete, His body was lifeless. The Sabbath (Saturday) was about to begin, so as to not defile the body nor the earth, friends asked permission to bury Him.
48-49All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.
50-54There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.
55-56The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.
—Luke 23:48-56 (The Message)
The Sabbath Day now represents the eternal spiritual rest that comes through faith in Christ (Hebrews 4:11).
But it also represented something else — namely, the means by which Jesus won that rest for us.
For the Sabbath day (Saturday) is the one full day that Jesus’ body lay in the grave. He died on Friday and rose on Sunday, but on Saturday there was no activity. His body lay lifeless in the tomb all day.
That’s one of the core meanings of the Old Testament Sabbath, and how Christ fulfills it. The Sabbath day represented the day Jesus’ body would lay lifeless in the tomb, to be raised the next day for our eternal salvation and rest in him.
(Thoughts on the Sabbath adapted from Matt Perman.)