March 26, 2005 - Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil

“And on the next day, which is after the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered with Pilate saying, ‘Sir, we remember that this deceiver said while he was living, “After three days I will rise.”  Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples coming at night steal Him and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead!’  And this last deception will be worse than the first.’  Pilate said to them, ‘Take a guard.  Go secure the tomb as you know how.’  So going, they made the tomb secure, sealing the stone with the guard.”  (St. Matthew 27:57-66)

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.  Jesus had said earlier in the Gospel: “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head,” (Matthew 8:20).  Now having won your salvation on the Cross, His head finally has a place to lie.  But even that place isn’t His own!

Joseph of Arimathea tucked Jesus’ body gently into the tomb.  That’s what you do with a dead body – you bury it.

The Pharisees and religious leaders come later, trying to make sure that the Body of Jesus stays dead.  It’s not enough that our sins crucify God and kill Him, we want to make sure that God stays dead!  So they secure the tomb of Jesus as best as they know how.  They seal the tomb shut and post a guard outside.

“Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Christ has burst the gates of hell.  Death in vain forbids his rise; Christ has opened paradise.” (TLH 142, v.3)

But the One who went through Calvary for you will not be kept from rising by a seal or guards.  If He will burst the gates of Hell on Easter morning, then neither rock, seal, nor guard are going to hold Him.

Nor will the grave hold you.  For since Christ is raised from the dead, all who are baptized into His death shall also rise.  Because He lives, you too shall live.

Today, as your body will some day lie in the ground, so does Jesus’ Body.  Tomorrow morning Jesus will show you what your body will do one day.  In the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

“O God, who didst enlighten this most holy night with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection, preserve in all Thy people the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given, so that, renewed in body and soul, they may perform unto Thee a pure service; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, and reigneth, with you and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.” (the Collect for Holy Saturday)


Higher Things Reflections are written by Rev. George F. Borghardt III, Assistant Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, TX.