Posted on April 24, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
He cried out, ‘It is Finished!’ with such triumphant enthusiasm that you might forget Jesus still hung on a cross. The victory was in hand; perfect justice was satisfied with perfect love.
His body was taken down and laid in a borrowed tomb, for Christ would only need it a few days. Just a short while ago, Jesus had taken the twelve disciples aside and told them, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. I will be handed over to the Romans, and I will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will flog me with a whip and kill me on the cross, but on the third day, I will rise again.” (Luke 18:31-33 NLT) It is easy to look back and judge the disciples’ response to their friend and teacher’s death; for them, time must have felt like it stood still. Grief consumes our consciousness, the guilt, and shame some felt for how they hid or denied Jesus in fear; how they proclaimed allegiance one day and betrayed Him the next.
The Romans were meticulous in their execution of death sentences, especially for those accused of treason. The fact that Joseph of Arimathea was able to retrieve Jesus’ body meant the executioners were pleased with their handiwork. The Jewish leaders recalled Jesus’ claim to rise again, So they “requested that Pilate seal the tomb until the third day. This would prevent his disciples from 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,” they said. Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted soldiers to ensure it was not opened.” (Matt 27:64-66 NLT)
A great stone would cover the entrance of the grave. Sealed and watched by the Roman soldiers, there was no expectation of life beyond this moment in time. The tomb stood dark and silent.
Disappointed by their ambitions of a kingdom and liberation from Rome, the disciples remained isolated from the public; only a few women watched from a distance as Jesus’ grave became an encampment. That Sabbath must have been the longest of days.
The silence between, ‘it is finished’ and, ‘He has risen just as He said,’ was a period of reckoning for those who believed. We have all faced it, that point where we must decide, ‘Do I really understand what God has said,’ and do I believe He will do all He has promised..? Seriously, Jesus had told them several times, ‘I will be back in three days, ‘ so why not chill at Starbucks for the Sabbath, and then meet Him by the rock Sunday morning? I wish faith was that easy, but it takes time to develop, it is not blind, like some would have us believe. No, faith in God is a rational choice, freely discerned by intelligent beings. Discerning takes time and experience to formulate a response. Nobody is twisting your arm, and especially not God. He has allowed you to make up your mind based on the love He has shown… and Yes, the cross is a pretty big illustration of that love. Regardless if you believe or not, it happened just as He said. No matter what people think, the evidence is on God’s side.
The disciples needed time to work out their faith. It is the same with us, and in the silence is where that happens… like being quarantined. It’s in the hush of silence that we can hear Gods ‘whisper’ and either move towards Him by faith or walk away, hardening our hearts. The choice is yours.
“Early Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. The soldiers shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. See where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell His disciples He has risen from the dead! He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.” (Matt 28:1-2)
Sure, it would be cool to see Jesus and put our hand in His wounded side, feel the raw scars on His back, or place our finger through the holes made by the spikes… But is that the faith we need to please God? His Word tells us, “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Jesus said of us who ‘believe having not seen or felt His wounds,’ we would have greater faith and change the world.
I believe there is no more significant time for a revival. All distractions have been removed, and we have been allowed to focus on what’s essential. Of course, we could make another Tik Tok, bake a cake, or binge-watch a Netflix original; Or, we could open God’s Word and listen in silence.
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “Jesus never said doing these things would be easy. He just said it would work.” ―
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick