Holy Week – Saturday
Holy Week – Saturday
In the course of a week, Jesus has gone from celebrated guest of a parade thrown in His honor to executed enemy of the state.
Saturday – the Sabbath – is a day of rest in Jewish law, in accordance with the fourth of the Ten Commandments. To honor God and His creation, no work is to be done. On the Saturday of Holy Week, Jesus’ body lays in a tomb and the city is quiet as its citizens are dormant in their homes.
The enemies of Jesus never rest, however. That Saturday morning the chief priests and Pharisees appear before Pilate to cap off their plot. They are well aware of Jesus’ teaching that he will rise on the third day. They are also aware that if they can thwart that event from happening – prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing His body for shenanigans – then their victory will be complete. They demand the tomb be made secure, so Pilate orders the tomb sealed and posts a group of soldiers to stand guard.
With His death on the cross, Jesus became our sacrificial Lamb who paid the penalty for our sin – He overcame sin on our behalf. But He had one more important thing to accomplish in His ministry – He needed to overcome death.
Lee Strobel is a Yale-educated lawyer who worked as an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune. He was also an atheist. In the early 1980’s he received the shocking news from his wife that she had decided to become a Christian. He was very angry and thought his marriage was about to end – so falling back on his training as an investigative journalist, he set out on a crusade to prove that the Bible is not true.
He focused on the resurrection of Christ in particular. He knew that if he could disprove Christ’s resurrection then all of Christian theology would collapse. And can you guess what happened? As a hostile atheist investigative journalist and lawyer, he discovered overwhelming evidence that the Biblical story of Christ’s resurrection is absolutely true! He became a Christian, stayed married to his wife of now 40+ years, became a pastor, and has been a strong voice for apologetics for several decades now.
“The Case For Christ” is his magnum opus and personal testimony. A Q&A summary of this book is freely available at the resource table in the commons area. I hope you will pick one up and read it.
So – does any of this stuff really matter? Why do Christians make such a big deal of Easter? Jesus seems like a good guy with some great teachings, but won’t God have mercy on a person who does their best to live a good life? Why is Jesus important? Consider these words from Billy Graham, answering a question on what makes Christianity different:
“The difference between the religions you’ve been studying and Christianity can be summarized in two words: Jesus Christ. He is the center and foundation of the Christian faith, and He also is the reason why Christianity is different from all the other religions that people follow.
Let me explain it this way. All the religions you’ve been studying have one thing in common: they all are searching for God (even if they don’t call Him God, or they think there may be many gods and goddesses). They do this in a multitude of ways—but they’re all trying to find God and gain His favor by their sacrifices and good deeds.
But Christianity is different. Instead of us searching for God—God is searching for us! Instead of us reaching up to God—God is reaching down to us! This is why Jesus is so important, because He came down from Heaven to do for us what we could never do for ourselves: bring us to God. God is perfect and holy, and we are separated from Him by our sins. No matter how hard we try, we cannot erase the stain of sin by ourselves. But by His death and resurrection Christ did this for us.”
Jesus’ resurrection is vitally important for several reasons. It fulfilled what He taught and what the scriptures foretold. It proved His divinity, that He was who He said He was. It proved that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice as a redeeming atonement in our place. It defeated Satan’s condemning hold over our lives – Jesus has the power to grant new life.
Tomorrow, followers of Christ everywhere will celebrate the empty tomb and Christ’s glorious triumph over sin and death. I look forward with great eagerness and joy to seeing you there to join in worship. HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Christ is alive for you! How are you alive for Christ?
Matthew Chapter 27