Holy Week 2013 – Easter Saturday

30 Mar

John 19:31-42
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken, ” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The time between Jesus’ death and resurrection is a very hard one for us to truly understand. We live in the knowledge that Jesus is alive, that He returned from the dead and ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. But at the time Jesus was dead there was no such certainty.
The 12 were now 11, as Judas had hung himself because he knew he had betrayed an innocent man. They were all scared and had deserted Jesus when He a arrested, betraying their friend by not staying with Him. Peter’s betrayal had possibly been the worst of all, as he had denied knowing Jesus 3 times, just as Jesus had said he would. And we know that they were all hiding in a locked room because they were afraid of what the Jewish authorities might do to them. This is not the confident group if Pentecost, this is a bunch if petrified down-and-outs who have nothing left of the life they have been living for the past 3 years.
In fact, they were so scared that they didn’t even help to bury Jesus. It was left to 2 people outside of his closest friends. Nicodemus, who was a member of the Sanhedrin, and Joseph if Arimathea, who was a secret follower of Jesus during His ministry but who now went and asked Pilate directly for Jesus’ body so he could bury Him.
And yet, from these quivering wrecks, Jesus raises them up to start His Church. That Church has been in existence for nearly 2000 years and, in spite of various splits, it has continued to deliver the message of salvation through Christ crucified from that day to this. And it has changed the world!

And it is in the mess that the disciples find themselves in during this time that perhaps can bring us the greatest comfort in our lives. When things go wrong in our lives, when all our hopes and dreams seem dashed, when everything that we thought was firm and secure is broken and blown away, then we can look at these 11 men, who had gone from thinking that they were about to bring in a revolution with their Lord to being afraid for their lives and leaderless. And as we look we can see that it was through this brokenness that God moved. What was broken was restored. Not just Jesus’ body, but His disciples as well. We see this clearest of all when Jesus reinstates Peter, restoring the relationship that had been broken through the betrayal of denial. And then these once broken men did start a revolution. One that we can continue as we rise from our brokenness, with Christ at our side.

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