Saturday, April 11, 2020


The Silent Day (the day that Jesus was in the grave)
Pioneer Cemetery Behind the Log Church
After Jesus had been crucified and after he had breathed his last breath, in the midst of their tears, some women at the foot of the cross began to make plans for the customary application of spices to his dead body. The spices were not meant to be a type of embalming, but were only intended to alleviate the stench of the decomposition of the body.
Jesus was dead. The women recognized this, and obviously they had no thoughts that he would rise again.
But if they were to anoint his dead body with spices, they had better begin to make the preparations now. They would only have that evening to do so. The day on which Jesus was crucified was not of course called “Good Friday” at that time, as we call it in these days. It was, in fact the “Preparation Day” for the Jews.

It was called that because it was the day before the Sabbath. Religious laws surrounding the actual day of the Sabbath were so stringent that absolutely no work was permitted on that day—including work like cooking and other household chores. This naturally would also include preparing of the spices. All of this had to take place on the day before the Sabbath—on Preparation Day.
Thus, after the body of Jesus had been removed from the cross, the women followed Joseph of Arimathea, the man who had prepared a tomb for Jesus, so that they could see where the body of Jesus was to be placed. That is how they would know where to go early in the morning after the Sabbath. After they had seen the place in the cemetery, they returned to their homes to prepare spices and perfumes that they would need for the anointing.
On the next day, the day of the Sabbath, having everything prepared, they rested, “according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
Frankly, I wonder how much rest they actually had. So much had happened. There was so much to think about. It was not only the brutal crucifixion of Jesus, but at the time of his death, there were four astounding events that happened either instantaneously, or in very rapid succession.
First of all, three of the gospel writers tell us that “Darkness came over all the land, from the sixth hour (12:00 noon) until the ninth hour.” This darkness at midday was something beyond a solar eclipse. The darkness that came at the death of Jesus lasted three hours. These were not the fleeting moments of a normal eclipse. In addition, this was Passover, which always occurred on full moon nights. Complete solar eclipses can only happen in the new moon.
The second event that is mentioned is that at the very moment that Jesus breathed his last breath, the Temple veil that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies was torn into two pieces, right down the middle and from top to bottom. This was no bed sheet, but a heavy linen of several layers some 30 feet in height. Without going into a long explanation, in several ways the veil represented the prevention of direct access to God. When Jesus died for us, he provided a way in which we can come directly into the presence of God, under the authorization of Jesus.
At the very same time that the veil was being torn, a great earthquake took place in the land. It was an earthquake so violent that even the rocks were split apart.
The fourth event was with little doubt related to the earthquake, because some of the rocks that had been split were the rocks that were used to construct tombs in the cemetery.  Some of the graves were opened by the tremors. I do not know if this exposed the remains of the people in those tombs, but I would suppose so. The verse (Matthew 27:52) may even indicate that the bodies were raised from the dead at that time, but that is difficult to say this for certain.

Regarding this aspect however, the most amazing thing relating to the opening of these graves seems not to have happened immediately, but would occur after Jesus rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath. It was at that time those who had been resurrected appeared in the city to many people.
After such a full description of events on the day that Jesus was crucified, one might expect that there would also be much written about the day following. There is not.
We also have a very full accounting of the events of the day following the Sabbath—the day we call Sunday. That is the day of resurrection. Between the four gospels, we have many details about that day.
But of the Sabbath itself, we have very little information In fact, the only thing that we have recorded for us is that, despite it being the Sabbath and the day of rest, the chief priests and Pharisees somehow were able to rationalize just a wee bit of work for themselves by assembling before Pilate to strongly convince him to place a guard at the tomb of Jesus. They were afraid that someone might steal the body away and then claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Other than that single piece of information, the day is silent for us. We do not know of anything else that happened. For us, it is the silent day.
But we can also be sure that it was not actually a silent day for the people of the time. The way that word gets around, I am quite certain that the news of all these events quickly became widely known. After such unexplainable occurrences in nature, all of which happened at the death of Jesus, we can be certain that on that night, and surely even through the night and into the Sabbath, people were talking about it.
Many had sequestered themselves behind locked doors. They were discussing everything that had happened.
 “What can it all mean?”
What it meant for the Roman centurion was that he was convinced that this man whom he had just had a part in putting to death was not the imposter and blasphemer that the Jews tried to make him out to be.
“Truly this man was the Son of God,” he said.
For those of us in the year 2020, this day, Saturday, April 11, is the day after and the day before. Like those women on the Sabbath, the day after Jesus was crucified, for us today is the day after Good Friday. It is the day “in between” the event-filled day of the crucifixion, and the event-filled day of resurrection.  We observed the death of Jesus yesterday, and tomorrow we will commemorate his resurrection.
As it was for the followers of Jesus on their Sabbath, today is also a good time to consider all that is going on in our own world. What is this darkness of the virus that has covered our land, and what are the events that are shaking our times?
With the coronavirus lockdown, there will be no better opportunity for us to think about these things. As we are shut up in our homes, we are almost like the disciples who had shut themselves in behind closed doors.
I suppose I will not make any friends by saying that I think that it is good that there are no professional or college sports going on right now. I say this because these are among the many things that we normally use to distract ourselves—things to occupy our minds and our time, so that we have no time to think about those things that actually do have consequences.
But not today. Today we will not allow ourselves to be distracted. There are things happening in our day that are of far greater importance. Like the women and other followers of Jesus in their day after, we have been compelled to stay in our homes. This is the time given to us to consider events that are shaping our world.
The coronavirus is only the most recent of these, but it is interesting to me that this is an event that is affecting the entire world, and almost at the same moment in time. I have had correspondence with friends from several different countries in most parts of the world, and in each place, they are all under very similar meeting and traveling restrictions as we are in the US. We are all experiencing this together.
This pandemic is not the first that the world has faced, but it is on a scale that is unprecedented to any of us in our time. As I mentioned yesterday on this blog page, the covid 19 virus has caused market collapse, economic distress, job loss, and many other frightful situations. Is there any thinking person who has not asked themselves if there is a further meaning to this?
In addition, since I have been involved with our Log Church Orphanage in Kenya, I am thinking also of the almost unprecedented locust plague of that country. It is happening also in other parts of East Africa.
I read an article yesterday that said the wings of a new generation of locusts are about to develop to the point where they will be able to fly. There are big efforts by the farmers and the government to kill the hoppers before they take wing, but the coronavirus has impacted even that, since there are now less resources to fight the locusts.
The new generation of locusts is expected to be 400 times worse than what has already occurred! The population of locusts on cropland could be as high as 25,000 per acre, or to put it in terms that most can better picture, less than one football field (from one goal line to about the opposite 10 yard line). One large swarm of locusts can eat enough food to feed 35,000 people.
It has been the very heavy rains in the area of the Arabian Gulf in the past few seasons that has caused this explosion of population of the desert locust. This brings up another of the controversial topic in today’s world—climate change.
In the end, whether it is a change occurring because of natural causes or man induced causes, it does not matter to the family whose crop has failed or has been eaten by insects. Their only concern is that they do not have enough food.
Do these things make you fearful? Perhaps that is why we turn on the TV. We do not want to think about these things.
But what the silent day can teach us is that after the crucifixion, when it seemed like the entire world had collapsed for the followers of Jesus, the day of resurrection was coming with the new day and with the rising of the morning sun.

I do not know how all these present day crises will end, but if I correctly understand the Scriptures, they will not be the last that we will see. In fact, world-wide disasters and catastrophes will only increase both in frequency and in intensity toward the final days of the present day earth.
None of us would like to see this in our lifetime. Jesus said of these last days, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations, bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves. Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
But then he adds this: “When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28)
This day, April 11, 2020, is our silent day. It is our day to consider all that is happening in our present world. It is our time to watch for the day.

Tomorrow is Easter. It is the day when our redemption was secured, and when Jesus proclaimed victory over death and the grave.

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