Holy Week Bible Study – Holy Saturday – Matthew 27:57-66

Matthew 27:57-66 King James Version (KJV)

57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

 

Waiting.

Sometimes, it can be the hardest thing to do.

On Holy Saturday, we wait with those who watched Jesus die on the cross.  We cannot fully understand their pain, their sense of loss, their hopelessness.  He was supposed to change the world.  He was supposed to save the world.  He was supposed to save them.  He was supposed to vanquish the forces of darkness, not just Rome, but the spiritual powers that stood behind Rome.  Instead, they were waiting.  Waiting until they could properly anoint his body, pay their last respects, say goodbye.

If there was anyone who was able to look past the pain and loss and remember that he had promised that on the third day he would rise again, we don’t hear that testimony from the scriptures.  The only ones talking about that promise were Jesus’ enemies,

Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

They weren’t taking any chances.  They didn’t want the disciples to have a chance to steal away the body and pull off some hoax about his actually rising from the dead.  So, the tomb would be guarded.

What they couldn’t possibly know is that for all time to come – that would strengthen the case for believing in Jesus’ resurrection.  After all, the tomb was guarded by Rome’s best, how could a bunch of frightened, incompetent disciples pull off an empty tomb?

No, in the end, their paranoia would actually serve to strengthen the evidence that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead – just as he said he would.

But…we are getting ahead of the story.

For now, we have to wait, with those who saw him die, and with him – their dreams.

Waiting.

Sometimes, it can be the hardest thing to do.

But when the waiting is over…

when Easter Sunday comes…

when we go to the tomb expecting to find a dead body…

and the tomb is empty…

I can hardly wait.

 

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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