Lenten Day 40: [THE HOLY SATURDAY] GRAND FINALE
TOPIC: THE HOLY SATURDAY
TEXT: MATTHEW 27:62-66
The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate; these were the inveterate and implacable enemies of Christ; they took counsel how to put Him to death; they employed Judas to betray Him, and sent a band of soldiers with him to take Him; they suborned false witnesses against Him; they moved the people to prefer Barabbas to Him; they got Him condemned to death, and followed Him to the cross, where they mocked Him; and still, like the troubled sea, they were restless and uneasy; for though He was dead, they feared His resurrection; and though they could not prevent it, they consulted to hinder the credit of it. The next day here was the seventh, or Saturday, and might be what we should term the evening of the sixth, or Friday, because the Jews always ended their day when the sun sets, and then began the next.
While these wicked men were fulfilling their own vicious counsels, they were subverting the great cause of Christianity. Everything depended on the resurrection of Christ; if He had not risen from the dead, then the whole system would have been false, and no atonement would have been made. It was necessary therefore that the chief priests, should make use of every precaution to prevent an imposture, that the resurrection of Christ might have the fullest evidence to support it. This they probably took from His saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up. If so, they destroyed, by their own words, the false accusation they brought against Him to put Him to death; then they perverted the meaning, now they declare it. Thus the wise are taken in their own craftiness. Neither the devil nor his servants ever speak the truth, but when they expect to accomplish some bad purpose by it. The guard was to take care that the disciples should not steal Him away; and the seal, which was probably the seal of the governor, was to prevent the guards from being corrupted so as to permit the theft.
What could His disciples gain themselves by stealing away His body, and making people believe He was risen; when, if He should not rise, and so prove Himself a deceiver, His disciples, who had left all for Him in this world, in dependence upon a recompense in the other world, would of all others suffer most by the imposture, and would have had reason to throw the first stone at His name? What good would it do them, to carry on a cheat upon themselves, to steal away His body, and say, He is risen; when, if He were not risen, their faith was in vain, and they were of all men the most miserable? So everything was done which human policy and prudence could, to prevent a resurrection, which these very precautions had the most direct tendency to authenticate and establish. How wonderful is the wisdom and goodness of God!-and how true is it, that there is neither might nor counsel against Him! Possibly on the sepulcher of Jesus was impressed in this manner the seal of Pilate–the seal of office– making it doubly sure. With such precautions, the only way the tomb could be empty would be for Jesus to rise from the dead. The Pharisees failed to understand that no rock, seal, guard, or army could keep them secure, nor could any power prevent the Son of God from rising again.
We cannot but be struck with the wisdom of God, in ordering the circumstances of the Saviour’s burial in such a manner as to avoid the possibility of deception. Had all this been done by His friends, it might have been said that they only pretended to secure the tomb, and only pretended that He was dead. But He was adjudged to be dead by the Jews themselves. The wonderful wisdom, the over-ruling power and providence of God; by this excessive care and extraordinary diligence, the high priests hoped to prevent our Saviour’s resurrection, but the truth and belief of it was hereby confirmed to all the world. How much evidence had Christ’s resurrection wanted, if the high priests and elders had not been thus maliciously industrious to prevent His rising! That the endeavours used to obstruct our Lord’s resurrection, have rendered it more certain and undoubted: had not all this care and caution been used by His enemies, the grounds of our faith would not have been so strong, so evident, and so clear. It was very happy, that the Jews were thus jealous and suspicious, thus careful and distrustful; for otherwise the world never would have received so full and perfect an evidence of Christ’s resurrection. Verily their solicitous care to suppress our Redeemer’s resurrection, has rendered it more conspicuous, and freed it from all suspicion of forgery.
WHY IS THE RESURRECTION SO IMPORTANT?
- Because of the Resurrection, we know that the Kingdom of Heaven has broken into earth’s history. 2. Because of the Resurrection, we know that death has been conquered and that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ. 3. The Resurrection gives authority to the church’s witness in the world. The apostles’ most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead! 4. The Resurrection gives meaning to the church’s regular feast, the Lord’s Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we break bread with our risen Lord. 5. The Resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy. No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the Resurrection gives us hope for the future. 6. The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling his Kingdom. Christians can look very different from one another, and they can hold widely varying beliefs about politics, lifestyle, and even theology. But one central belief unites and inspires all true Christians—Jesus Christ rose from the dead!
The death of Christ was ordered, so as to be witnessed by thousands; and if His resurrection takes place, it must be demonstrated; and it cannot take place without being incontestable, such are the precautions used here to prevent all imposture. The more the circumstances of the death of Christ are examined, the more astonishing the whole will appear. The death is uncommon-the person uncommon-and the object uncommon; and the whole is grand, majestic, and awful. In every part, the finger of God most evidently appeared. The chief priests apprehended that if the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection be once preached and believed, the last error would be worse than the first; a proverbial expression, intimating no more than this, that we shall all be routed, all undone. They thought it was their error, that they had so long connived at His preaching and miracles, which error they thought they had rectified by putting Him to death; but if people should be persuaded of His resurrection, that would spoil all again, His interest would revive with Him, and theirs must would sink, who had so barbarously murdered Him.
Note, Those that opposed Christ and His kingdom, will see not only their attempts baffled, but themselves miserably plunged and embarrassed, their errors each worse than other, and the last worst of all, Psa 2:4-5. Let the death of Christ have meaning in your life, and never attempt to distort its essence.