Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had been buried. So they laid Jesus there … John, 19 41, 42
So much has been said about Jesus life and death that I hesitate to try to add anything. How can you any mere human even begin to understand much less explain or magnify?
Jesus last few days were the culmination of his entire ministry. Throughout, He never told his followers to honor or worship Him. He taught them to love God. He was a most loyal and humble son.
He came to Jerusalem to reclaim His Father’s temple. He prepared for the feast of Passover as His Father had commanded. He ate his last meal with his twelve chosen disciples – yes, all twelve. He left them with the Eucharist, his body and blood in the form of bread and wine. The bread was the unleavened Passover bread; the wine also an integral part of the Seder. I think that even at the very end He continued to teach us. He wanted us to know that He was not discarding the special bond between God and the Jews, but building on it. He was fulfilling an ancient and beautiful promise – a sacred covenant.
After the meal, Jesus went into the garden to pray, and He prayed with fervor. He prayed that He could be spared the death He was facing. As so often happens when we pray, it was Jesus who changed rather than God. After praying, Jesus accepted the Father’s will and now had the strength to carry out His horrific duty.
Throughout His passion and death He remained the Savior for whom mankind had been waiting since the beginning of time. He suffered. He tolerated. He endured. He forgave. He ensured that his mother would be cared for. He told the “good” thief that they would meet in Heaven. He saved.
From a theological standpoint, we cannot say with certainty how Jesus death saved us. Some believe when He called out to the Father and asked why the Father had abandoned him was when he took on all the sins of the world and was momentarily isolated from the Father. If so it must have been an experience horrible beyond even the pain of the crucifixion.
However, when He called out, He called “Abba!” which is a more intimate title similar to “Daddy.” While we refer to him as the Son of God, He called himself the son of man. How so very human to cry out as a child would when in pain.
Today is Holy Saturday. To the Jews it is the Sabbath, starting a few minutes before sundown on Friday until three stars are seen in the sky on Saturday evening. Genesis tells us,
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work He had done in creation.”
His work done, Jesus was laid in the tomb before the Sabbath began and rested there. In a few hours he would return to life in a glorified body, still loving and forgiving all of us. Loving us in such a manner that Matthew concludes his gospel with his loving promise, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Thank you, Jesus.