The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. ~Matthew 27:62–66~
“Keep him in the tomb” urged the chief priests and Pharisees. “Seal Jesus in and make sure nobody steals his body – we can’t take the chance that anyone would try to fake a resurrection.” I wonder how Pilate really felt about these men. They had insisted on the execution of a man he had found not guilty. They had urged the release of the murderer and insurrectionist Barabbas. Now, they come again to say – “Thanks for killing Jesus for us, will you please make sure he stays dead?” Pilate surely must have been losing all patience with them by now. So Pilate says, “Take some Soldiers, secure the tomb, Go Away.” The chief priest and Pharisees seem satisfied. The tomb is secured and they apparently rest easy. Little did they know…
Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday. Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday when Pilate could finally rest from the pestering chief priests and Pharisees. Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday when the people of Israel would be taking rest in the Sabbath. Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday when the Disciples were afraid, and in hiding in a locked room. Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday when the Soldiers were standing outside a tomb making sure that nobody tried to steal the body of a man they believed to be a local criminal. Little did they know that Jesus had a plan for that Saturday that was on every front apparently silent. A silent Roman governor, a silent population, a silent group of confused and disappointed and discouraged and scared disciples, a silent stand on a guard duty among the silent tombs, and what seemed to be the silence of God all filled that Saturday – the day of Holy Silence.
Had God really let His messiah get executed? Had God really let His own son get executed? Had it all been a lie? Those in charge thought to themselves – “Thank God we took care of the Jesus problem.” The Disciples thought to themselves – “What can we do without Jesus? We have a problem!” Little did they know Jesus had a plan for that Saturday.
On that Saturday: Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison. ~1 Peter 3:18–19~
While the world went on in apparent silence, Jesus went and preached to those who had died prior to the Messiah’s – prior to His – arrival. Jesus went and provided the Gospel, the Good News – You can be reconciled to God the Father, to those who had died without it. Jesus went and conquered Spiritual Death.
On this Saturday when the Church recognizes the day of Holy Silence most churches are silent themselves. Most people are at home waiting for Easter services. Few in the world today are reflecting on what Jesus accomplished that Saturday many years ago. Little do they know that Jesus has a plan for this Saturday that is on every front apparently silent. But to all those who have never heard the Gospel before (and those who have) on this day of Holy Silence Jesus still provides a chance to be reconciled, to live in peace, to have a better life, to become a child of God – A chance to respond to the Gospel – A Chance to conquer Spiritual Death.
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the Rev’d Dr SG Rindahl