November 13, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Thursday after Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 74, Lev. 25:23-31, Phil. 2:19
Evening – Psalm 77, Dt. 17:14, Mt. 27:57

Commentary, Matthew 27:57-66

Christ really and truly died.  He really and truly became flesh, as John tells us in John 1:14.  He really and truly suffered and died, and He was really and truly dead and buried.  These points are important, because if any one of them is shown to be false, the entire Gospel of Christ is false, the Christian faith is false, and Christians are guilty of the sin of idolatry.  But we need not fear.  The entire Bible is written to announce Christ.  The Old Testament proclaims Him in the feasts and sacrifices, the Temple and the priests.  All of these things are shadowy signs of the One who fulfills the meaning and intent of the Old Testament.  Christ is the Scapegoat, the sacrificial Lamb, the High Priest, the Sabbath, the Passover, the Son of David, and the fulfillment of prophecy.  He is Immanuel (Is. 7:14), Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).  He is the destination to which all Scripture takes us.

In the New Testament He said many times that He would die.  Two days before Passover He told His disciples He was going to be betrayed and crucified (Mt. 26:2). Many other places in Scripture record predictions of His coming death.

In Matthew 27:57-66, we see the dead body of Christ removed from the cross and taken to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.  In the presence of Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” identified by Mark as the mother of the Apostle James, Christ’s body is placed in the tomb and a heavy, carved stone is moved into place to seal the tomb.  It is nearly sun set on Friday evening, and the Sabbath is rapidly approaching.  Thus, the mourners have to leave the body as it is until after the Sabbath.  Sunday morning will be the earliest they can give Him a proper burial.

The disciples and followers of Christ seem to have no confidence in our Lord’s promise to rise again after three days.  Even on Sunday morning the women go to His grave to anoint His body, meaning to clean it and prepare it for permanent burial.  But the Sadducees and Pharisees remember His prediction.  While they do not believe He will actually rise again, they want Pilate to place guards around the tomb for fear that the disciples will steal the body and fake His resurrection.  They want Pilate to post a guard of Roman soldiers around the tomb, to secure the grave and prevent theft of the body (27:63 and 64).  Pilate agrees to this, and the soldiers are sent.  The stone, which serves as the door of the tomb, is sealed with an official Roman seal, and the soldiers stand guard.  No one will challenge these soldiers who take pleasure in crucifying a man.  The grave is secure. 

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