Today’s reading is short, but packed with some key things for us. We will be reading Matthew 27:62-66.
The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 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.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
What immediately stands out to you?
The chief priests reaction… 1. Obviously they heard Jesus’ teachings 2. After his death, and the miracles that took place when it happened, they were afraid he really was going to rise from the dead.
Our application says, “The religious leaders took Jesus’ resurrection claims more seriously than the disciples did. The disciples didn’t remember Jesus’ teaching about his resurrection.”
Scared of what might happen, what do these chief priests do? What is their theory of what is going to happen?
In looking further into this day, it was a day filled with silence. It was the Sabbath now so everyone was honoring the day of rest. God was silent after not being silent at all the day before and now Jesus was silent, too, as he lay there dead in the tomb. I want to share a few quotes from an article I found on Faith Gateway to put this day in perspective for us.
“It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light.
Maybe they talk about what went wrong. What in God’s name happened? None of them wants to say this, but in their hearts, they’re trying to come to grips with this unfathomable thought: Jesus failed. Jesus ended up a failure. Noble attempt, but He couldn’t get enough followers.
He couldn’t convince the chief priests. He couldn’t win over Rome to make peace. He couldn’t get enough ordinary people to understand His message. He couldn’t even train His disciples to be courageous at the moment of great crisis.” (https://www.faithgateway.com/in-between-despair-and-joy/#.YFs93WhKjDc
Have you ever looked at today in this light?
The thing is, they didn’t know joy, clarity, good news and light were coming tomorrow, they only knew Jesus was dead and that despair, confusion, bad news and darkness were upon them. This day, they were grieving over the death and loss of Jesus.
Try and put yourself here, on this day, imagine how everyone is feeling. Regret maybe that they didn’t defend him? Sadness? Maybe even a little deceived by Him? Our application told us above that the disciples don’t even remember Jesus preaching on His resurrection, so for them, this is it. They are sitting with the fact that he is dead, in their minds, it was over.
I feel in this moment they were thinking all hope was lost. The one they believed would change the world had now died and their hope died with him.
Have you ever felt like hope was lost? Have you ever experienced a Saturday? A time in between the sorrow and the joy? Write down that experience, of course your Saturday may not have been just one day and your Sunday may have come on slowly, maybe it hasn’t even come yet, but write about it and what it felt like when you finally felt joy again.
This day of silence, of Jesus just lying there dead in the tomb, is needed for us all to understand where everyone was at on this in between day and to get the entirety of the Easter story.
Heavenly Father, we see this day of silence in between. We see the despair and darkness, the feelings of lost hope, the confusion and concerns for what just happened yesterday and everyone trying to come to terms with Jesus’ death. We see the religious leaders remember his teachings and their threat that he would come back, thank you for including this detail, that the tomb was extra secured, but also that although they were threatened by him, the religious leaders believed in Him and his power. Thank you for this day, where we sit here, in silence, realizing this day, Jesus was silent in his tomb, dead. We automatically want to jump to the good news of tomorrow, but help us to sit in this silence, in a time of reflection and taking on the emotions of what others must have been experiencing on this day, help us to be in your presence, fully aware of what had happened. In your powerful name we pray, AMEN!