Holy Saturday or Easter Eve

Holy Saturday, Easter Eve or Black Saturday is the name given to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Some Christians recognize Holy Saturday as the day on which Jesus “rested” from His work of providing salvation.   It is the seventh day of Holy Week.  When Jesus died, He called out, “It is finished!” He had completed His job.  Sin had been atoned for and salvation was now available.  Jesus had built a bridge between the Father and us.  We can now go straight to Him and not via priests and holy men.

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This day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting like Lent.  Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday.  He had said He would rise from the dead so they would be watching for Him.  Most likely they would be recalling every word He said to them.

It is also the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that He had risen from the dead.  Pilate sealed the tomb, secured it, and posted guards.  No one was getting in.

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How have you felt reading the activities and what happened during the days of Holy Week?  I learned some things when researching for this week’s blog that I did not know before now.   I felt like I was there trailing around after Jesus, too.  At the end of each day my emotions were raw.  How could the people be so callus and blind not to see that Jesus was The Son of God?  How could they beat and torture anyone to that degree, let alone Him?  I was outraged and heartbroken.  I cried heartfelt tears of anguish.

I know the ending.  I also know this was God’s plan, but it still hurts.   For those of us baptized, when we were baptized we died with Christ (going down under water) and arose with Him (rising up again).

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Scripture tells us this in Romans 6:3-11 King James Version (KJV):

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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So, while we await Resurrection Sunday, take a moment to reflect.  Just as we were baptized and died with Jesus, we died to sin.  We should sever the bond sin has over us and sin no more.  After He died for us, it is the least we can do for Him.

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Good Friday

Good Friday or Holy Friday.  Where did that name come from for the awful day our Lord Jesus was falsely accused, condemned, beaten, and crucified? Good? How was that day good? Scholars say the word “good” comes from the Old English “good” meaning holy.   Others argue that the good comes from Jesus sacrificing himself for us. That is the best thing that could ever happen for us.  Jesus paid the ultimate price and we received the ultimate good gift.

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Early Friday morning, Judas realized what he had done and was overcome by guilt. He threw the money on the ground and he hanged himself on a tree, not being able to live with what he had done. Around 9:00 a.m. Jesus was in the midst of being mocked, accused falsely, shamed, and horribly beaten.  Horribly beaten is putting it mildly.  He was whipped and scourged to the point His flesh was torn off.  Some accounts say that His bones were exposed showing white against the bloody red.  Still our precious Lord did not cry out. He endured true to scripture.  Then after a corrupt trial He was sentenced to be crucified, which is one of the most agonizing, painful, and disgraceful deaths of that time or any.

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They placed a crown made out of pointed, sharp thorns on His head and pressed it down. Hard.  The large thorns cut into His head and face.  Can you imagine the pain of just that one act? They mocked Him, spat on Him, and made Him carry His own heavy cross.  The weight was so heavy He stumbled under it.  The soldiers grabbed someone from the crowd to help carry it.

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He was still being tormented. Even as the soldiers hammered the nails in His precious body to the wooden cross, He was being insulted and mocked. Did He respond in kind?  No. Through it all He remained silent.

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His followers were clustered at the foot of the cross. They were mourning, grieving, and suffering. Did Jesus finally say anything? What did Jesus say? He told Mary and John there were now mother and son. He lifted His head and asked: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

He asked for forgiveness for those crucifying and tormenting Him. Then, the soldiers divided His clothes among themselves. They continued to mock Him and baited Him saying if He was truly God’s Son, then save Himself. One of the thieves hanging beside Him asked Jesus to remember him for surely He was God’s Son. Jesus told the thief he would be in Paradise with Jesus.

Around noon it became very dark and gloomy. The sun stopped shinning. Around 2:00 Jesus asked “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And then Jesus realized to fulfill scripture one more thing must be done, so He said “I am thirsty.” They gave Him some sour wine on a sponge and held it up with a branch. After tasting it, Jesus said “It is finished.” He then said in a loud, clear voice with head lifted “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.”

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Then he died. This was about the ninth hour or 3:00 p.m. This literally shook the world. There was an earthquake, rocks broke, the temple curtains were torn in half, and tombs opened and bodies of Holy people were raised to life.” Wow! Can you imagine being there?

Rather than break his legs as they do at the end, the soldier took a sword and pierced Jesus in the side.  Blood and water gushed out.  They were positive He was dead.  Oh, can you comprehend what His poor mother and followers went through watching that?  The heartbreak?

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Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus so that He could be buried in a tomb on his land. Then before 6 p.m. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus down from the cross and lay His body in a tomb. The tomb was sealed with a large, heavy stone that took more than one soldier to move. More soldiers were posted to guard overnight.

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Did I take you through the events of Good Friday?   I hope you were able to walk there and envision it. It is unbelievable the pain of that day, isn’t it.  To say Jesus suffered and died is so understated.  Jesus was tortured, beaten, mocked, flogged, had nails driven through his hands and feet, and was bloody almost beyond recognition.  He did this for us. You and me.

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Maundy Thursday, a New Commandment is Given

Today is Holy Thursday which is known as Maundy Thursday.  Maundy is derived from a Latin word that means commandment.  This is the day that Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment – to love others as He has loved them.  (John 13:34).  They were gathered in the Upper Room.

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Jesus was at the table with His apostles and spoke to them of what was to come.  He was preparing them for His suffering.  They dined on the usual Passover meal, but Jesus stopped at the the bread and wine.  He gave it a special meaning. Jesus said that these would be a symbol of His body and blood to His followers to remind them that through His death, our sins are forgiven.

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” And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

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Do you think of Him each time you take communion?  He paid the ultimate price for our eternity.  More than we could ever imagine.

Jesus and His disciples often gathered in the “Upper Room”.  It was where they normally stayed while in Jerusalem.  Today Jesus began His teaching by example.  After they ate He washed the disciples feet.  What a humbling experience for them!  Even Peter told Him that Peter should be washing His feet, but Jesus said no.  In John it says “Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

00FEBD4E-1BE7-428F-BD84-C3B287E7CA6BI cannot fathom what it must have felt like for the apostles.  Jesus was telling them of His upcoming death but that through it we all might have eternal life.  He was showing by example that we are to be humble and to love everyone, even our enemies – even those who are our Judas.

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Afterwards Jesus and a few of His followers went to the Garden of Gethsemene to pray.  It is there that Judas identified Jesus with a kiss and He was taken by the soldiers.  Things start to get rowdy but Jesus quiets His apostles.  He will not allow violence.  In fact, He heals a soldier whose ear was severed.  Jesus is arrested and taken to the authorities.

My heart is heavy writing this.  Can you imagine how it felt to actually be there?  Thank you for revisiting Maundy Thursday with me.  Tomorrow we will see what Good Friday holds.