Holy Saturday

For good reason the Gospels devote a great deal of space to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion on Thursday and Friday of Passover week, as well as Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day.” Yet little space is given in the Gospels to the day between “Good Friday” and Easter Sunday, sometimes known as “Holy Saturday.” None of the Gospels records any of the activities of the disciples on the Sabbath after his burial and prior to his resurrection, except for Luke, who simply writes, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56, ESV). However, this passing reference to the disciples’ Sabbath rest may veil the considerable inner turmoil they were likely experiencing. It is probable that Jesus’ followers were doing on Saturday what they were doing on Sunday when Jesus appeared in their midst: meeting together behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. Their hopes and expectations had been crushed. The one they hoped was the Messiah had been killed as a criminal. They hadn’t understood Jesus’ predictions about suffering and dying before the crucifixion took place (Matt. 16:21–2317:22–2320:17–19 and parallels), and it would not be until Jesus appeared among them the following day as the risen Victor and conqueror of death that they would begin to understand. Most likely, they were concerned, if not anxious or even terrified, that what had happened to their leader would now happen to them as well.

Only Matthew gives any concrete details as to what took place that day behind the scenes while activity was limited due to the Sabbath. According to his account, it was on Saturday that the Pharisees and chief priests came to Pilate and asked for a guard to be posted at Jesus’ tomb, saying, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first” (Matt. 27:63–64). It seems that the disciples were not the only ones who were afraid! Perhaps the unusual circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death—darkness covering the land, an earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain—gave the Jewish leaders reason to be concerned. The Pharisees were obviously aware of the predictions Jesus had made about his resurrection, although they were not necessarily inclined to think that his words may actually come true. In fact, their words show nothing but disdain for Jesus whom they call “that impostor” and “fraud.” Nevertheless, it is ironic that not only were the Jewish leaders aware of Jesus’ prediction that he would rise on the third day, they acted on it, which exhibits more “faith” than Jesus’ own followers were able to muster at that time.

Pilate’s response, “You have a guard of soldiers” (Matt. 27:65), is somewhat ambiguous. It may be that the Roman governor grants the Jewish leaders’ request and provides them with a detachment of Roman soldiers. Alternatively, he may simply be telling them, with thinly veiled antagonism, to use their own temple police to do the job. In either case, he grants them permission to guard the tomb, and they proceed to do so. While the Jewish authorities didn’t believe Jesus’ words any more than the disciples did, they were adamant that the body placed in the tomb must stay there and not be removed. In the context of Matthew’s account, these activities on Holy Saturday serve as proof that the Romans and the Jewish authorities secured Jesus’ tomb, which makes it unlikely that grave robbers (such as Jesus’ own disciples, Matt. 27:64) could have stolen the body or that it could have disappeared through some sort of foul play in another way. In this way, Matthew sets up his narrative perfectly for what is to ensue on Easter Sunday at the crack of dawn.

The Last Supper

Matthew 26:17-30

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”Related image

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a]covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Although Maundy Thursday is part of Holy week where we have Jesus sitting with his disciples for the last supper. Our Queen Elizabeth II also observes it with the distribution of Maundy Money, the recipients of which goes to senior citizens who have served the church and the local community.

The Last Supper

Luke 22 New International Version (NIV)

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a] 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Obstacles to Jesus

See the source image

John 2:13-22

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

It is perhaps understandable that the Jews were a little perplexed when Jesus told them he would raise the temple in three days because he was actually talking about his body as the temple after he was raised from the dead.

A Gracious God

2 Chronicles 30 New International Version 

Hezekiah Celebrates the Passover

30 Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel.The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem.The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly.They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.Image result for Gracious and compassionate God

At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelite’s, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelite’s and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

Here in verse nine we are being told that God is a compassionate and gracious God and he will not turn away from us as long as we believe in him.