DAY 24: Saturday 11 April
EASTER IS NOT CANCELLED
Good morning all
It’s Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath. Three bodies have been removed from the crosses erected yesterday at the city rubbish tip called Golgotha. Everything is now quiet and ordered once again because it’s the Sabbath.
Religious services will take place as normal according to tradition.
The Sanhedrin believe the Jesus movement has finally been dealt with except for possible trouble from those disciples who may try to break into the stone tomb to steal Jesus’ body, so an armed guard has been positioned.
It’s Passover weekend so organised religion can carry on as before – the religious leaders are now back in control under protection from the Roman occupation forces.
But questions remain –
- Where are the disciples this Sabbath morning? Will they be going to the Temple or a synagogue today, or will they stay in hiding? Have they yet remembered Jesus’ words that he would rise again
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:32)
- How will the Chief Priest and other leaders explain to their congregation how the ancient Curtain in the Temple, (60 feet high and 4 inches thick), mysteriously got ripped yesterday afternoon all the way from the top down?
- And what about that Roman centurion?
‘And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39)
Thanks to Max Lucado for the following thoughts on this Easter Saturday –
There has been much discussion recently over what to believe. Are the coronavirus numbers accurate? Are the reports from other countries dependable? Dare we be optimistic about treatments and vaccines? Like you, I’ve struggled to separate caution from overreaction.
There was one headline, however, that we can quickly discard. Don’t believe it. Don’t fall for it. The message just ain’t true. Here it is: “Easter Cancelled.”
The article detailed the sad reality that most churches will be closed this coming Sunday. Hence, the announcement, “Easter Cancelled.” Hence, my reply, “Not on your life, friend.” Easter cannot be cancelled. The church doors might be closed, but the promise is alive and well. What the angel said on the first Easter, he says still. “He is not here. He is risen from the dead as he said he would” (Matthew 28:6).
It was Sunday morning after the Friday execution. Jesus’ final breath had sucked the air out of the universe. As his body lay breathless in the grave, no one was placing bets on a resurrection. His enemies were satisfied with their work. They raised a toast to a dead Jesus. Their only concern was those pesky disciples. The religious leaders made this request of Pilate, “So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 27:64).
No concern was necessary. The disciples were in meltdown. When Jesus was arrested, “All the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). They cowered in Jerusalem’s cupboards and corners for fear of the cross that bore their name. No one dreamed of a Sunday morning miracle. Peter didn’t ask John, “What will you say when you see Jesus?” Mary didn’t ponder, “How will he appear?” They didn’t encourage each other with quotes of his promised return. They could have. At least four times Jesus said words like these: “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” You’d think someone would mention this prophecy and do the maths. “Hmm, he died yesterday, today is the second day. He promised to rise on the third day. Tomorrow is the third day… Friends, I think we better get up early tomorrow.”
But Saturday saw no such plans. On Saturday, the enemy had won, courage was gone, and hope had caught the last bus out of town.
Throughout our lives we go through times of darkness and difficulty. Here’s a recent contemporary hymn written and performed acapella by Ally Barrett accompanied by her son. Be encouraged and inspired with words to encourage us through times of suffering and especially through these unusual days of lockdown in isolation from family and friends >>>
Yesterday, Good Friday, I had occasions to smile -
- The first was late morning whilst I was clearing up a carpet of magnolia leaves and petals in the back garden. Windows were open around the house and I heard Karen playing her cello for the first time in over a month and I could hear her playing some Easter hymns. I went back in the house and with the sound recorder app on my phone secretly recorded her playing. I found it so moving that I thought some of you might also enjoy. This was not a performance or intended as proper accompaniment but I’ve added the words to the hymns so you can singalong if you wish (8 mins) >>> https://falconlodgechapel.sermon.net/21571879
- In the afternoon we were having a cup of tea in the back garden when we heard singing. We were trying to identify where the sound was coming from, then we recognised the tune as ‘Amazing Grace’ being amplified from a couple of streets away which was then followed by someone praying loudly for God to intervene and bring an end to the pandemic across the world.
- Then later, an unexpected visit from Andrew and Oliver delivering to our front door our ‘Easter Eggs’ (well actually… 3 tins of canned fish). Thank you…
No other news to report for today – remember Easter is not cancelled even though we may not set foot out of our houses tomorrow –
Churches may be empty, but so is the Tomb!