April 11, 2009 - Holy Saturday

Today’s Reading: St. Matthew 27:57-66

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 13:17-14:9; Hebrews 7:1-22

When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” (Matthew 27:59-60)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Added to the shame of dying on a Cross is the sad fact that Jesus doesn’t even have His own tomb! Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea and a disciple of Christ, asks Pilate for the dead body of God. Joseph took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid the Lord Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb. After rolling a giant stone over the entrance of the tomb, He went away leaving Mary Magdalene and the other Mary there, mourning alone. What else was there to do?

Except the Pharisees have to add insult to injury. It’s not enough that they murdered Jesus, they want to make sure that Jesus stays dead and His body stays in the tomb. So they place a guard in front of the stone and seal the tomb shut.

Shocked? Really? You shouldn’t be. Nothing that we sinners do to God should shock us. Just look in the mirror and remember the last time you condemned someone for something, and then did the very thing that you looked down on them for doing. It’s what we do. We do evil things.

He died for the evil we do, and by His death He won for us the forgiveness of our sins. Then He was put into the grave to hallow all the graves of those who are baptized into His Name. Hallow-- that’s “make holy.”

Christ died and was buried for three days. Don’t try to make 72 hours pass between His crucifixion and resurrection. The Hebrews count days from sundown to sundown. Any part of the day counts as the full day. Jesus is buried on the evening of Good Friday before sundown. That’s day one. Day two starts on Good Friday night, after sundown and includes Holy Saturday. The third day starts on Saturday when the sun goes down into Easter morning.

Jesus is buried for three days. He truly has done everything that you will do--He suffered your pain and anguish, your death, and even your burial. There truly is nothing to fear again! God has given up everything to save you - even His own life. Now He rests for three days.

He will rise, and you will rise with Him. The shame of His death and those guards will be a gift. Just watch. He makes all things new. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

O God, You made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection. Preserve in us the spirit of adoption which You have given so that, made alive in body and soul, we may serve You purely; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Collect for Easter Vigil)