The Long Saturday

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV)

Saturday.  The day after the crucifixion of Jesus.  His body lies in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimethea.  And, someone among the chief priests and Pharisees says, “Hey!  Wait a minute!  Didn’t this guy say that He would rise up out of the grave after three days?”  Suspecting a conspiracy, they figure that the followers of the man they have murdered would steal the body and claim it as proof that He indeed is the Messiah.  So they scramble to prevent any deception or perpetuation of a hoax.

Once again they take their dilemma to the Roman authority for help.  And Pilate, probably growing plenty impatient with all this religious posturing, agrees to post guards at the tomb and to place the seal of Rome on it.  Nobody would want to tangle with well trained and well armed Roman soldiers (who would pay severly for the failure of their assigned duty), and the penalty for breaking the seal of the Roman government would likely resemble what Jesus Himself had received.  So, it would be an easy assumption that the Jewish leaders would have been smuggly confident that they had seen the last of this Galilean troublemaker.  Done deal!  Even the “deceiver” himself had said it from the cross, hadn’t he?  “It is finished.”

That same Saturday the disciples were in hiding, afraid of being captured by the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government.  The women were resting and preparing their burial spices to anointed the body of their fallen Lord.  Mary, the mother of Jesus was grieving the horrifying death of her first born son.  Judas Iscariot used his ill-gotten funds to purchase a field with a lone tree, large enough to hang himself from.  It was a long day.  All hope seemed to have disappeared and the future looked empty.

Maybe your present circumstances seem similar to that Saturday.  Everything that you had hoped for and expected in your life may seem to be in total collapse.  Your enemies might even be gloating over your perceived failures and situation.  Your own grief and disappointment may appear to be so opaquely dark that you can’t even begin to imagine what tomorrow will be like, and the prospects for it being worse seem likely.

Wait!  Hang on!  Sunday morning is on the way.  A new day…a new week…a new life!  The blackness of the tomb is about to be driven away by a brilliant light!  The stone that hinders an emergence is about to be rolled away!  The burial bindings are about to be loosed!  The Enemy is about to taste defeat!  Sorrow is about to become unfettered joy!  The old is about to become new!   

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (NIV)


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