Daily Meditations for Holy Week:
Day 7—Completion and Rest
"And on the seventh day God rested from all His work."
The Burial of Christ
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Waiting for the Light
It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
When Jesus finished His work He entered a time of silence. Though He went down to the grave He was not dead. The great joy experienced on the first day of the week led us into the valley of Christ's death. The all encompassing work of Christ is provision enough for all the seasons and circumstances of our lives because it is an eternal work, and its truth and fullness shall have the last word be it immediately or in days to come. Too often we rush to complain when God seems to go quiet. But we should trust and wait for the fruit of His labor to be manifest. In His passion, as Hosea foretold, He made "the valley of trouble" our "door of hope." Habakkuk exhorts us, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." This is pure faith.
At the same time it is a paradox because while we must often wait for the promise of God, when He comes in His presence we forget the pain of waiting for Him. In the light of His glory we cannot say our sacrifice was not worth the joy we feel from knowing we have done His will and He is pleased with us.
While we are in travail the weakness of our flesh is revealed. Our impatience with the sacred work of perfection as Christ is formed in us is not pleasant while it is being wrought. We tend to despise suffering as the shadow of the cross is passing over us. We attempt to endure the humiliation and the shame of entering into suffering with Him. But we see Jesus. He endured the cross...despising its shame. All for the great joy which awaited Him once again in the Father's favor and embrace once Christ had accomplished His will. When we realize that even His cry of forsakenness was a cry for the forsaken souls who are cut off from God for sins, we must pause and allow patience to have its perfect work in us, being conformed to the image of His death.
What of the twelve who followed Him into the city on the first day? Except for Judas, His betrayer, they became like Him and have entered into the joy of their Master. Simon, Andrew and Thaddeus all died on crosses. Matthew was murdered with a pick axe. Philip was scourged, imprisoned and crucified. And enraged pagan priest thrust Thomas through with a spear. Peter was crucified, along with his wife, all the while offering her words of comfort and love. James was stoned and then beaten to death with a fuller's hammer used to work iron. And Nathaniel was flayed alive and crucified upside down. While Judas hung himself because of his betrayal, John the beloved escaped a martyr's death...but only after being boiled in oil. He was exiled to labor in a rock quarry on Patmos as a political prisoner of Rome. They have overcome the world. They have gotten the jump on death. They will judge angels and rule on the earth. Let us also be faithful.
Each time the Lord told of His death, He spoke of His resurrection. One cosmic-spectacle — the cross, demonstrated in two historic events — His death and resurrection; attained three great achievements: the salvation of sinners, the revealing of God, the conquest of evil. Displayed in four poignant images — our propitiation, our redemption, our justification and our reconciliation — salvation is made unto God. The whole of man is renewed in five-fold deliverance from our enemies: the world, the law, the flesh, death and the devil. In the times in our lives when it seems God is silent and we cannot glimpse His sleeping form through the tempest, He is there nonetheless. The mast of our ship holds fast, for it is Calvary's tree and will not be moved though the winds of the world and storm of sin assail this boat. The cross is complete victory.
On Monday lift up your hands and pray because Sunday's coming. On Tuesday let the fragrance of sacrifice fill the whole house — remember that Sunday's coming. On Wednesday let deliverance and healing be done demonstrating that Sunday's coming. On Thursday taste and see that He's good — trust in the Lord because Sunday's coming. On Friday look up even when death presses in — death can't dance because Sunday's coming. On Saturday rest in the Lord and don't fret because Sunday's coming!
"Captain of our Salvation we cling to You in time of tempest, temptation or testing. Bind us in cords of love to the mast of Calvary that we may not be moved from steadfast devotion. We quiet our souls like children weaned from demanding milk as we ask for the strengthening of the meat of Your word to fill and sustain us. Put a guard over our hearts that we might not offend as those who would consider the price You paid for love an unholy thing. We wait on You." Amen.
Our seventh meditation is from Psalm 17:
A Prayer of David.
1 Hear a just cause, O LORD,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
2 Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
3 You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
4 Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
5 Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
6 I have called upon You,
for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
7 Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
9 From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed up their fat hearts;
With their mouths they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
12 As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
13 Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
14 With Your hand from men, O LORD,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children,
And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
From our family to yours, may the blessings of Easter surround you this season. HE IS RISEN!
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