God Knows…When Things Look Hopeless – Part 1
The worst had happened. The disciples of Jesus were sure of it (It would be some time before they understand that the crucifixion was actually the best thing that ever happened to them).
Jesus was dead. Their friend. Their teacher and adviser. The one they hoped to see ride to glory as King of their nation and Conqueror of their overlords. It was hard to believe that He was really dead. Until the very end, they hadn’t believed He would die. Once Jesus died, their hopes died as well. The future was black.
What next? Standing near the cross, tears falling from tired eyes, some of the disciples talked it over. Now that Jesus was gone, they realized how much they loved Him. They wanted to give Him a decent burial, but how? Even that looked hopeless.
When things look hopeless, God can bring help in ways we’d least expect. Two secret admirers of Jesus decided to openly support Him. As the hopes of the disciples were dying, the faith of these two men was growing. They became positive that Jesus was the Son of God. One of them had just seen Jesus’ words to him three years earlier com true—about being lifted up from the earth (John 3:14-15). He was now drawn to Jesus as never before.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were rich. They knew the right people. They could do for Jesus what the poor disciples couldn’t. Joseph obtained permission from Pilate to bury Jesus. Nicodemus brought an expensive mixture of myrrh and aloes for His embalming. The disciples watched in amazement. Gently the men removed Jesus’ body from the cross. Joseph had a new tomb nearby, a small manmade cave in a rock. He had expected to use it himself someday. Carefully the body of Jesus was wrapped in a linen sheet and carried to the cave. A heavy stone was rolled across the entrance to the tomb, and everyone went home to rest.
Happy Heaven – Upset Earth
And what a day of rest that was! God the Father and the Son had rested on the seventh day of creation, after His work was finished (Genesis 2:1-3). Now His Son rested on the seventh day of the week, after His work on earth was done.
In heaven there was great joy. Jesus had won! Sinners could be saved from sin. Satan had lost. The angels saw the result of the character of Satan.
But there was no joy on earth. The disciples were in tears. They were so upset and sad that they completely forgot Christ’s promise that He would rise again.
There were individuals who remembered Christ’s promise, and were scared. The priests had a feeling of real dread. Suppose Jesus did rise again? They held a council and decided to go visit Pilate.
“Sir,” they said, “we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’” Pilate agreed.
They placed ropes across the large stone at the mouth of the tomb that held Jesus’ body. The ends of the ropes were fastened into the solid rock and sealed with the Roman seal. A company of soldiers was sent over from the Roman garrison to stand guard. “Jesus rise again? Not a chance,” thought the enemies of Jesus.
The day of rest passed. Then another night. Still the soldiers guarded the tomb. To fall asleep on duty would mean certain death for the guard. Just before daybreak, when the darkness was at its blackest, there came another earthquake. An angel from heaven appeared, and brightness filled the sky. The angel rolled away the great stone as if it were a pebble. “Son of God, arise; Your Father calls You,” the angel called out. The Roman soldiers saw Jesus exit the tomb. The glory of heaven shone on His face. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” He declared.
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