23
Apr
11

Easter Saturday: Mission Accomplished?

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate.  They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”

 Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.”  So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. – Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

On the day following the crucifixion of Jesus (Saturday), it dawned on the priests and Pharisees that they might well-advised to take measures to insure that their apparent elimination, not only of Jesus, but also that of His entire movement would be complete.  Someone remembered that Jesus had predicted His own resurrection and they were sure that His followers must also remember it, so just in case they tried some monkey business by stealing His body, they once again turned to Pilate and the power of Rome to make sure things were secured against any slip-ups.

Breaking the seal of Caesar, placed on anything, carried big-time punitive implications for anyone bold or foolish enough to attempt pilfering or encroachment.  So that was “Plan A” in the attempt to keep Jesus in His final resting place.  Secondly, Roman guards were well-armed, well-trained, and such an intimidating presence that certainly no one would have courage enough to challenge them.  Also, any Roman soldier, once given a mission by a superior knew that failure to complete their mission may bring life threatening results to themselves, so the guard’s determination to guard would be most resolute.  “Plan B” implemented?  Check!

So on Saturday, the religious leadership of Jerusalem rested, confident that they had seen the last of the Galilean rabble-rouser and the rabble that followed Him.  Besides, it was the Passover Sabbath and no self-respecting Jew (even that sorry bunch) would risk breaking Jewish law and do any work on the prescribed “day of rest and reflection.”  This Jesus was dead, locked away in a tomb, and that was where He was going to stay!  Mission accomplished!

In January of 1995 I spent three days in Israel and in Jerusalem on a post-mission lay-over from Kenya, Africa.  Among the many Biblical sites I visited while I was there was the Mount of Olives where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, and where we are told His feet will touch down when He returns to gloriously establish His Kingdom.  From that spot you can view the ancient wall surrounding old Jerusalem.  Within that wall is the Eastern Gate.  It did not escape my attention that it had been strongly enclosed, sealed and cemented with large hewn stones.  I learned that this was accomplished in 1530 AD by the city’s Muslim conquerors (the Ottoman Turks).  It was done to send a message to both the Jews and to Christians that their Messiah would never enter the Holy City by this prophesied way.  Again…. Mission accomplished!

Neither stone nor the power of an Empire, or the best laid plans of men was able to keep Christ in the grave.  Mission failed!  There is coming a day when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will triumphantly enter into the capitol city of His Kingdom and if anyone believes that any amount of stone, cement, walls or any power or plan (human or supernatural) is going to succeed in keeping Him out, then once again the result will be… Mission failed!

This all causes me to think.  I wonder how often we believe we can put God in a little box of our design and perception and think we can succeed in keeping Him there?  And, how often do we think we can erect walls of our own plans and expectations about life and selfish desires and fully expect to keep Him out?  When the Lord wants out, He’s coming OUT!  When the Lord wants in, He is coming IN!  When we think anything of our own purposes and plans are a done deal…. a mission accomplished, the Lord of all creation stands everlastingly ready to remind us, it’s not done until He says….. “IT IS FINISHED!”  Then and only then can it truly be said, “Mission Accomplished!”

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