Day Seven Saturday: In the Tomb

Matthew 27: 62 – 66, Luke 23: 56       

The Pharisees asked Pilate for a guard to be placed at the tomb “Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” (Matthew 27: 65).

Jewish leaders had asked Pilate for a guard to make certain the tomb was secure. Shortly before this Herod had disgracefully divorced his wife, the daughter of the King of the Nabataeans, Aretas domiciled in Petra. Aretas retaliated by engaging Herod’s forces in battle east of the Dead Sea. Herod’s forces suffered heavy losses in the battle. There were scarcely enough to keep the peace during the festival apart from Roman soldiers. In response to the request made of Pilate the scarceness of Jewish forces prompted Him to say, “You have a guard.” It is commonly thought he was giving them a guard.. However, it is more likely he was saying “You have a guard, your Temple Guard, use the guard you have.” This being true there were not members of Herod’s forces or Roman soldiers at the tomb resurrection morning, but Jewish members of the Temple Guard.

Jesus’ body lay in its tomb, where it was guarded throughout the day on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. When the Sabbath ended at 6 p.m., Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus: “He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth” (John 19: 39-40).

Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was a member of the Sanhedrin, the court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death. For a time, both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community.

Similarly, both were deeply affected by Christ’s death. They boldly came out of hiding, risking their reputations and their lives because they had come to realize that Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah. Together they cared for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (I Peter 1:18-19, NLT).

While his physical body lay in the tomb, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice. He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation.

At sundown on Saturday gloom had engulfed hope, death mocked life, angels wept and demons laughed, BUT Sunday is coming.