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Planning, Preparing and Prioritizing

I was thinking this morning about a great example of people who put God at the top of their “to do” list.

After the crucifixion, some women followed Joseph of Arimathea as he claimed Jesus’ body and buried it. These women, in the midst of tragedy, made a plan. They marked where the tomb was and how Jesus’ body was laid in it. They went home and prepared spices and perfumes which they planned to use to annoint the body. The next day they worshipped, observing the Sabbath exactly as God had commanded them to. Then, very early the next morning as soon as the Sabbath was over and it was light enough to travel, they lugged all their preparations to the tomb so they could show their love and respect for Jesus, even in His death.

This was no slap-dash, hey I’ll pray today if I can find some time, kind of worship. These women didn’t think, “Hmm, I think I’ll take a run over to the tomb since I finished everything else I had to do today.” This was planned out in advance. This was something they prepared for. This was something they did in addition to and as a priority over all the other things they had to do.

Think about it. The women had spent Friday standing at the cross. They were emotionally drained. Presumably, they were also behind on their normal duties since they had been with Jesus all day. On top of that, it was Preparation Day, the day before the Sabbath when a Jewish woman has to get a million things done around the house since she cannot work on the Sabbath. (Even today, Jewish women who carefully observe the Sabbath must do a lot to get the next day’s meals ready and the house prepared before sundown. Can you imagine 2000 years ago without the luxury of crock pots and prepared foods?) Yet these women took the time to learn as much as they could about what was going on with Jesus’ body. Then, planning ahead and recognizing that they could not make preparations on the Sabbath without disobeying God, they went home and on Friday they prepared all they would need for their visit to the tomb. They then took the time to obey what God had told them to do regarding the Sabbath, although things were decidedly not normal and they were facing grief and a crisis of faith. And finally, as soon as physically possible, they went back to the tomb to lavish their love on Jesus. They didn’t wait until the after-Sabbath chores were done on Sunday. They didn’t sleep in after an emotionally harrowing weekend.

The story, simple as it is, speaks volumes about planning, preparation, prioritization of Jesus over everything else. As a result of their efforts, these women had an inside track with God that morning. They were the first to hear the incredible news of Jesus’ resurrection. They saw the faces of the angels and heard the news that their redemption was complete.

Sometimes I feel a little jealous of the privilege the women were granted that morning, but I recognize that it was they who put themselves in the position to be so blessed. They set their priorities and followed through on the details. That visit to the tomb was at the top of their “to do” list and at the forefront of their minds from the moment they saw Jesus die.

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. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. Luke 23:55-24:1