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Easter Saturday – finding hope in the darkness


Michelangelo’s sculpture ‘The Pieta’ depicting the dead body of Jesus after his crucifixion, draped across the Virgin Mary’s lap.

BY TARA-LEIGH COBBLE*

The Saviour of the world is dead. What more is there to say about the time following the cross? There are things to say. Much more is happening behind the scenes than a sealed tomb would lead us to believe.

 

After Jesus died on the cross, his body was taken down and prepared for burial. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy follower of Jesus, volunteered his tomb outside the city of Jerusalem for (what everyone thought) would be Jesus’s final resting place.

 

“Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching” (Matthew 27:59-61 NLT).

 

Since Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, all burial preparations had to be done before sundown on Friday to avoid working on a day the Jewish law set aside for rest. But while everyone else was mourning the loss of their friend, some surprising people were working on that Sabbath day, namely the religious leaders. Aren’t these guys supposed to be following the religious laws to the T? They’re the ones who enforce the laws, after all. Yet again, the hypocrisy of the religious leaders seems boundless.

 

“On the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’ “Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’ So, they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it” (Matthew 27:62-66 NLT).

 

Wait! I thought the religious leaders didn’t believe Jesus’s claims that he would rise from the dead. Didn’t they just put him to death for claiming to be the Son of God? Turns out, the religious leaders may have harboured a few more suspicions about Jesus’s true identity than they were letting on – a reality that only magnifies their guilt. 


How do we hold onto hope in the darkest days as we wait on the promises of God to become reality?

 

The religious leaders are hoping nothing will happen, but they are preparing as if the words of Jesus will become reality. It is what his disciples should have been doing, putting their hope in his promise to rise again. But hope is a fragile thing to preserve when the door of the tomb is shut tight.

 

How could they have held to hope in the waiting? How do we hold onto hope in the darkest days as we wait on the promises of God to become reality?

 

Instead of giving into fear, doubt, and the evidence of current circumstances that all tell us God has forsaken his promises, we cling to what we know is true: God is faithful to his word. “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19).

 

Oh, that the disciples would have gathered, not in fear, but to encourage each other to trust in God. Instead of going to the tomb expecting a gravesite, what if the women had gone expecting to find it empty? Imagine if Joseph of Arimathea had not only prepared Jesus for his burial but prepared to have a feast ready to welcome him after he rose. What if they had all simply believed Jesus and waited with expectation? 

In their grief, Jesus’s friends and family were overwhelmed by fear and doubt. We don’t blame them, but we can learn from them.

 

Waiting may not be welcome, but it is a reality for us all. Whatever you’re waiting on today, hold on to hope. Believe God is a promise keeper who does the impossible. Do what can be done as you wait – surround yourself with godly people and remember God’s past faithfulness as you cling to hope together – but above all, expect that what God promises will come to pass in his way and in his own time.


Article courtesy of the Bible App – Walking with Jesus series by Tara-Leigh Cobble (speaker, author, teacher, podcaster from the US)

 

 

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