The next day, 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
The tomb is sealed. The enemies of Jesus have won.
It’s over. All of the ministry, all of the healings, all of the miracles. The teaching that surprised everyone. The words of wisdom and of challenge and of love. The way he ate at table with prostitutes. The way he welcomed tax collectors. The way he made room for the outcast and the downtrodden. It’s over.
The disciples must have thought so. How could they have faith on this day? Jesus was dead. Judas had betrayed him. Peter had denied him. The rest had scattered.
It was all in ruins. It was all a terrible mess. And they were in shock, grieving.
But if only they’d remembered. If only they’d thought back to the thing he said. If only they could see that he truly is the Son of the Living God, as Peter named him.
I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have hurt. But maybe they’d have had a thin thread of hope to cling to during the long, silent Saturday.
Because in Jesus was life. And not even the grave, not even death, could defeat the power of life and light that flowed through him.
This Holy Saturday, May you await the ressurection in silence, but may you also know that nothing will keep Sunday morning from dawning and Jesus from rising again.
Candles placed by pilgrims at the site of the empty tomb.
Luke prays at the anointing stone – believed to be the stone on which Jesus’ body was laid as they prepared him for burial.
An empty tomb under the church of the Holy Sepulcher, like the tomb where Jesus would have been laid.
The church in the church. Inside the Holy Sepulcher, this church houses and protects the empty tomb.