A Prayer for Saturday of Holy Week

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     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.” Matt. 27:62-64 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, how could your family and followers have slept the night of Good Friday? I can only imagine the depth of sadness that seized their hearts. And yet, others were euphoric and relieved, that you, “the deceiver,” could no longer threaten the status quo of the religious community.

As the sun rose on Saturday, no one understood that the most undeserved death imaginable would yield the greatest return calculable. As you were nailed to the cross, the written code—God’s law, with all its regulations and requirements, lost all its condemning power over us. With your last breath, you disarmed the powers of darkness, triumphing over all authorities marshaled against the God’s kingdom (Col. 2:14-15).

No one realized that your mortal punishment would bring our eternal peace; that your fatal wounding would secure our everlasting healing; that your being crushed under God’s judgment would lead to our being cherished by the thrice-holy God (Isa. 53). Though they had the Scriptures, they had no clue.

And yet the chief priests and the Pharisees did remember your promise of resurrection. They weren’t sad about your death; they were mad with fear about the possibility of your life. Having planned to put to death a resurrected Lazarus (John 12:10), they weren’t about to indulge a resurrected Jesus.

O silly, sinful men—they’d sooner hold back the rising of the sun than the rising of the Son of God. Resurrection Sunday was coming, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. The sadness of Saturday would soon be shattered with the shouts of Sunday: “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!” So very Amen we pray, in your triumphant and loving name.

 

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