Holy Week Day 8 – Holy Saturday

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Day By Day – The Last Week of Jesus’ Earthly Life

Yesterday was the ‘Day That Changed the World’ when our Lord Jesus Christ was arrested, falsely accused, beaten, illegally convicted, crucified, and died – all for you and me.  Yes, Friday was quite a day.  But what follows the ‘Day That Changed the World’?  Well, actually….not much of anything…when you first think about it. Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath – was a day of general inactivity in the grand scheme of Holy Week.  Let’s think about it a little more closely:

The Jewish day begins at 6:00PM, so although I said yesterday that the last event on ‘Good Friday’ was that “Jesus is laid in the tomb”, we might have to look at the biblical references a bit closer.

Matthew 27:57-61 – When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 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.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Here Matthew says, ‘When it was evening’.  Evening is after 6:00PM, so technically, Jesus was buried on the Jewish Sabbath – or Saturday.  Without posting the other four Gospel accounts in their entirety, here are what they each say at their start:

Mark 15:42-47 – ‘And when evening had come…’.

Luke 23:54 – ‘It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.

John 19:38-42 – These verses speak – as do the other three Gospel accounts – of Joseph of Arimathea getting permission from Pilate to bury Jesus.  But John’s account doesn’t say a particular time, and it includes another Pharisee – Nicodemus – who helped prepare the body of Jesus for burial.

1.  So, the first thing that happened on ‘Holy Saturday’ as some call it, is that Jesus was officially buried.  But you and I tend to think of Saturday starting at midnight, or when we finally get up on Saturday.  What happened during those hours – twelve or more hours after Jesus was buried.  Not much….

2.  Although the Scriptures don’t say exactly where the disciples had gone, we know from Matthew 26:55b that “Then all of the disciples deserted Him and fled.”  Since on Resurrection Sunday – after Mary Magdalene reported to Peter and John that the stone to Jesus’ tomb was removed and they discovered that the tomb was empty – we read in John 20:10 ‘Then the disciples went back to their homes.’  This might imply that after the arrest of Jesus the disciples scattered to hide in their homes, except Peter – who followed close behind, but then denied he knew the Lord to the common folks sitting around a fire – and John, who was present at the crucifixion.  The bottom line is that it would appear that the disciples – after the threat of them being arrested had subsided – simply went home.

What did they do at home?  The Scriptures don’t tell us.  I’m pretty sure that they paced the floor wondering where they went wrong; where Jesus went wrong; what did they miss; what were they to do now?  They were dazed and confused; fearful and anxious; but hopefully they were praying for the Lord God to turn their sorrow into gladness, just as Jesus promised to them He would.

3.  There were a couple of more things that happened on Saturday.  First, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate to ask for a guard of soldiers to watch the tomb of Jesus so no one could steal the body and fake a resurrection.  We read in Matthew 27:62-66 – “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’  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.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.”

4.  The last thing that happened on Saturday – and I’ve never heard anyone talk about this before – so I share about it last Resurrection Sunday – but according to Matthew 27:52, at the moment Jesus cried out ‘It is finished’, the curtain in the temple was ripped in half from top to bottom; an earthquake hit the immediate area; “…and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”  Whoa! We have some walking dead here!  Or ‘once dead but now walking’!  If you want to hear that message I shared or read the text of it, let me know, but this means that on Saturday these awakened saints were alive (but they didn’t come into Jerusalem until after Jesus was resurrected (Verse 53‘They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.’) Did they spend Saturday just hanging around the cemetery waiting for Jesus to resurrect?  I don’t know – but according to the Word of God, they were alive on Saturday!

Tomorrow’s Words of Grace will be….well, about the events of Resurrection Day!!!  God bless…thanks for reading….Pastor Randy