The Word of God gives us little to no information about Saturday – the Sabbath that occurred between the day of Jesus’ death and the morning of His resurrection. It was a day of rest for the Jewish people.

We can imagine the tears and sorrow of the disciples. But the Bible does tell us there was also some anxiety. In Matthew 27:62-66, we are told of one interaction in which the Jewish leaders were worried. The chief priests and Pharisees go to Pilate and say, “This guy talked about being resurrected on the third day, and we don’t want His disciples pulling any tricks, so give us a guard to secure the tomb.” Pilate said, “Here’s your guard; make it as secure as you know how.” We are told that they actually sealed the stone at the front of the tomb, and set the Roman guard to watch it.

We ought to be so encouraged when we look and see the faithful, sovereign hand of God. Enemies rise up against His will, all odds seem to be against God’s kingdom and against us as His people. We can sometimes feel powerless to bring anything good to the mess that is raging around us. Even after Jesus’ crucifixion, the Pharisees were seeking to stamp out Jesus and His disciples. But through their efforts, God was skillfully setting the scene for the reliable evidence of Jesus’ resurrection!

Recall how the prophet Elijah, centuries before, commanded that the wood on his altar to God be completely soaked with water. The prophets of Baal had cried out for fire to fall on dry wood all day, to no avail. Elijah prays once for the LORD God to send fire from heaven, and immediately, fire consumes the wood that is drenched in water! Little did the Pharisees know it, but on that Sabbath they were pouring water on the wood of God’s altar. Go ahead and try to stop the resurrection power of Jesus Christ! Go ahead and try to keep Him in the tomb. The resurrection is so all-consuming that you will only end up proving how awesome the miracle is.

We can get discouraged when God is silent. I don’t imagine any reassuring whispers of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the disciples on that Saturday. They truly believed Jesus was gone. It looked as if evil was prevailing. As long as we are surrendered to Jesus Christ, we can have joy, no matter what the scene looks like around us. We can put our hope and trust in the plan of God. He has not left us without help! He certainly will not abandon His own Son, and if we have His Son dwelling in our hearts by faith, there is no circumstance that escapes His attention. You may not see it at first, but be assured that God is still working His perfect plan, even while He seems to be silent.

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Reading: Matthew 27:1-61

As I contemplate the scriptures, I wonder what it was like for Jesus to see a new day dawn, after being betrayed into the hands of murderers by a close companion, struck in the face, spit on, and mocked all night. Some of us are beginning this morning with a cup of coffee and sunshine, blessed with a day off from work. Jesus began this new morning bound in chains, confronted by all the elders and chief priests accusing Him and crying out for His death into the ear of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:12). We often make sure we get extra rest when we have a big day ahead of us, but it does not appear Jesus had any opportunity for sleep as He prepared to face the greatest suffering any human has ever endured.

Lamentations 3:22-23 states, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed. His compassions fail not. They are new every morning….” You and I experience this. As believers we rejoice that His mercies are new every morning. But, on this morning, Jesus did not feel the new mercies of the Father. Instead, He stood there, abandoned by every friend, hearing the vicious lies and demonic hatred against Him, knowing that the full condemnation for our sins was beginning to fall upon Him. But all the while, He said, “Yes, Father, I will drink this cup.”

“What a burden borne for us,

To bury hate, fear, and lust

What a victory won for us,

Sinners made His daughters and sons”

I can’t help but stand in awe when I consider that Jesus submitted to all this for the Father, and for us. I think of all the many beautiful lives of so many saints across so many centuries, most of whom I have never heard of, but who have an eternal inheritance in heaven that cannot be stolen. It is only because of what God the Son suffered on a Friday some 2000 years ago that any of us have hope for eternity.

I think of the great willingness and surrender of the heart of Jesus into the hands of the Father. Just before He gave up His spirit on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). That Greek work “telestai” was the word that a servant in that time would use when returning to his master, after completing the task he was asked to perform. Jesus had paid for our sins, in full. It was done.

I see our own lives in stark contrast. How often I tell God, “This is too much.” How often I say, “Help this person to stop their attitude, because I’m going to snap if they keep treating me this way.” Yet, when they struck Him with their fists, mocked Him with a crown of thorns, sliced Him with whips, and pierced His hands, His feet, and His side, the only petition He made was, “Father, forgive them….” Instead of praying, “Father, remove this burden,” I wonder if we ought to pray, “Father, give me a stronger back to bear this burden.” We should be encouraged to endure sufferings with patience. God has a redemptive plan for what seems like pointless pain.

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By Pastor Alex

Today is known throughout church history as “Maundy Thursday,” the day we remember the last supper Jesus had with His disciples, as they celebrated the Passover. On this night Jesus blessed and broke the bread, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body.” He gave them the cup and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). On this night Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane as He submitted His human will to the Father. He prophesied that He would be betrayed and on that same night was betrayed by Judas.

But you may be asking, “What on earth does 'Maundy' mean?” It comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “command.” More than anything, we are called to remember a new command that Jesus gave to all His followers. In John’s gospel, at the Passover meal, Jesus stooped down and washed the disciples’ feet, as a servant would. Later on in the meal, He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

In these few words, Jesus raised the standard of our love for one another higher than it had ever been. Not only are we to love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s the start. But the higher calling in Christ is to love each other as He has loved us. Jesus laid aside all His rights as God the Son, and He took the place of a servant, washing His disciples’ feet. On the cross, He both took the blame and punishment for our sins and offered free forgiveness. He prayed for the forgiveness of those who murdered Him. He also healed the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, which Peter had cut off with a sword (John 18:10). Who else would offer miraculous healing to someone who was unjustly arresting him? He shed His precious blood to save sinners who rejected and hated Him.

This is a weekend to take special time to meditate on these wondrous things Jesus has done. But, as Maundy Thursday reminds us, it must go beyond this. As we meditate on the beautiful and costly love of Jesus Christ, it gives us a precise picture of the kind of love we are called to have for one another – not just this weekend, but 365 days a year!

How are you doing with showing the love of Jesus Christ to others? Is there room for forgiveness? Is there room for taking the posture of a servant? Is there an offense that calls for you to humbly bear a cross in love and patience? Is someone’s failure or sin presenting itself as an opportunity for mercy? As we meditate on the love Jesus has shown us, let’s pray together for God’s help to let that love flow through us to others.

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