Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42
Low in the Grave He Lay
“He was crucified, dead, and buried.” This is a line from the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest creed we have that is accepted by nearly every church communion in the world. He not only died a real death but was really buried, which in this case was inside a tomb with a stone rolled in place. Joseph, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, who is described as a good and righteous man, looking for the Kingdom of God, who followed Jesus but secretly out of fear, took courage and asked Pilate for the body. Even Nicodemus, also of the Sanhedrin, who went to Jesus by night, took courage to bring what was necessary to anoint the body. Joseph saw to the linen and laid Jesus in his own new tomb where no one had ever yet been laid, the women looking on. Moreover, we read in Matthew’s Gospel that the next day Roman soldiers were sent with the governor’s blessing to make certain that no one entered the tomb with the purpose of stealing the body and fabricating a story about a resurrection, and this at the insistence of the chief priests and Pharisees who remembered something or other of Jesus saying he would rise after three days. And I write all of this only to say that Jesus was dead; no one thought otherwise.
It must have been crushing for the disciples. Although Jesus had told them on at least three occasions that this would happen, they still couldn’t conceive of it. At times, they had dreamt of a kingdom, with themselves in charge. At others, they thought themselves willing martyrs ready to give their lives for his. Nothing that they had hoped for came to pass, and now they were hiding, fearing that they would be next. Of course, matters would change on the third day, and after the coming of the Holy Spirit, they would be turned into different men. But for now, they are as distraught as any men ever were, and have no idea what they will do next.
I speak of the utter disillusionment that these men felt, knowing that we have felt such as well: shattered dreams, broken promises, unfulfilled expectations. These are the things that crush us. We may even wonder if life is worth living anymore. But hear this: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18 KJV). Christians hurt like everyone else, but we must remember that we live in this world only to prepare for the next, the whole reason why Christ came for us. Please do not despair. Christians have a real and lasting hope, not a dream. As Mary Magdalene did on that Resurrection morn, cling to Christ, and let what may happen come.