Holy Saturday – April 16, 2022
Holy Saturday – April 16, 2022
All earthly power structures fear the resurrection of the dead. Their final expression of power is the ability to cease and silence their opponents by putting them to death. The prospect of the dead rising terrifies them. In the case of the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate, they were doubly terrified, for not only Jesus’ death and silencing would be overturned by resurrection but also he would be proven a true prophet at his resurrection: “After three days I will rise” (vs. 63). Jesus’ vindication as a true prophet would transform him from a condemned criminal into a martyr for the cause of God’s kingdom.
So Pilate gives them a guard and orders the securing of the tomb. As the religious authorities implement Pilate’s orders and satisfy their desires, they achieve three levels of security on the tomb. First, the tomb is closed by the great stone rolled before its entrance (vs. 60). Second, the tomb is sealed with wet clay that will harden as it dries, forming a fragile seal that will crumble at the merest of the stone’s movements. The clay would have been marked by pressing the imperial seal of Rome upon it, indicating Roman authority had placed it and Rome would punish anyone who broke it. Third, guards were set, providing an initial intimidation and then actual physical force should intimidation fail.
Nonetheless, the resurrection could not be denied. In the span of mere hours, from the hour of Jesus’ death until the hour of his resurrection, two earthquakes took place. The Temple curtain, torn. Rocks, split. Tombs opened, and their sleeping saints raised (Mt. 27:51-53). At the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, the earthquake came again. The angel of the Lord descended, rolled back the stone, struck the guards unconscious with fear, and spoke to the women, “Do not be afraid” (Mt. 28:5). The resurrection could not be denied; yet, when those fearful religious authorities heard the tale from the guards, they paid a bribe to them to spread a lie: “His disciples came while you were asleep, and they stole his body” (Mt. 28:13). Lies… Lies are all the Father of Lies (Jn. 8:44) has to deny the authority God has over his creation… the authority to say who lives and who dies…
Table Talk: Discuss the resurrection of Jesus as a threat to the world’s power structures.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant me the truth in the face of Satan’s lies. Amen
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, After three days I will rise. 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, He has risen from the dead, and the last fraud will be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said to them, You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can. 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.