A Day of Hopeless Despair
Holy Saturday - April 3rd
Devotionals for Passion Week 2021
Scripture to Read Today: Matthew 27:57-66
"Take a guard," Pilate answered.
"Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how."
So they went and made the tomb
secure by putting a seal on the stone
and posting the guard.
Today we continue daily devotionals around the final days of the first coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Each devotional this week will include a text of Scripture to read (simply click on the link at the top of this page to read Matthew 27:57-66 for today's devotional) and some thoughts I have written to help us in our walk with Christ based on the Scripture for the day.
We will focus on the passages that record what our Savior did each day of the final week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection. Feel free to share these devotionals with others via social media or email. God may use them to bless others, too!
Can you imagine how the followers of Jesus felt when they saw his lifeless body disappear in the tomb's darkness as the stone was rolled across the entrance? I can imagine them standing outside the tomb for a few moments, just staring at the massive rock sealing the entrance. What they had witnessed in less than 24 hours stunned and crushed them! It wasn't supposed to be this way!
Their hearts and minds were filled with unmet expectations, disappointment, and grief. In their confusion and heartbreak, they had to return home quickly after the burial so they would not violate Jewish prohibitions around the Saturday Sabbath. Because of the timing of Jesus' death, Christ's followers would have felt they had abandoned the body of Jesus because they could not give it a proper Jewish burial.
The emotions the disciples and the other followers of Jesus felt as they left the tomb grew exponentially overnight. By Saturday, anger, doubt, frustration, depression, and despair settled into their hearts and minds. The only recorded event that may have taken place on Holy Saturday demonstrated that the religious leaders who crucified Jesus remembered and believed Jesus' words more than His own disciples.
According to Matthew 27:62-66, the religious leaders convinced Pilate to put a guard and an official seal on the tomb because Jesus had said He would rise again in three days. The leaders were convinced that for that to happen, the disciples would steal the body on the third day to make it look like Jesus had risen. The actions of both the religious leaders and Pilate ultimately provided significant evidence and proof that no one had stolen the body, and Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.
Saturday was tough (to say the least) for those who had committed their lives to follow Jesus. Less than a week earlier, they thought they saw the plan for Jesus to be Israel's new King coming together as the crowds in Jerusalem gave Him a royal welcome. Seeing the crowds welcome Him Sunday and then hearing shouts of "Crucify Him" on Friday left the disciples bewildered and afraid. Would they be next?
The final images of Jesus they held in their hearts on Saturday involved a bloodied Jesus hanging on a Roman cross and His body being laid to rest in a cold, dark, borrowed tomb. Saturday left them feeling overwhelmed by disappointment, paralyzed by fear, confused by uncertainty, sidelined by guilt, and isolated by loneliness. What an awful day! They had no hope. They failed to dwell on the words Jesus prophesied about His own death, burial, and resurrection. His words would have filled them with life-giving hope. Instead, they only knew the emptiness of despair.
How about you? Have you lost sight of hope in the last few weeks, couple of months, or this last year? Have you experienced loss, hardship, disappointment, fear, guilt, and loneliness? Most of us have been heavy-hearted at some point in the last 12 to 13 months. Some of us slid into despair.
On the Saturday between the crucifixion and the resurrection, the disciples had forgotten or failed to believe Jesus' promise that Sunday was coming! He would rise again on the third day. Hope was on the horizon, whether they believed it or not.
No matter how heavy your heart may feel today, hope is on the horizon, whether you believe it or not! Ultimately, Jesus will return and gather His followers to Himself, and then He will make all things right. There will be a day when He wipes away every tear. On that day, there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death. With the hope that our Savior is risen and coming again, we can have peace through His Spirit until we are with Him forever!
Thank God for resurrection hope, the promise of his coming again, and the peace He gives us today!