Unlikely Allies

While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” – (Matthew 27:19, HCSB)

While Pilate was sitting there in the place for judging, his wife sent a message to him. It said, “Don’t do anything with that man. He is not guilty. Last night I had a dream about Him and it troubled me very much.” – (Matthew 27:19, ERV)

While court was still in session, Pilate’s wife sent him a message. “Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about Him.” – (Matthew 27:19, MSG)

I have read the account of all that Jesus endured on His way to the cross countless times. For whatever reason, what stood out to me this morning is that the most unlikely of people seemed to be in His corner. After enduring two trials and three denials, I imagine it felt like no one was for Him. Both Pilate and his wife spoke on His behalf, recognizing and declaring His innocence. Though Pilate eventually gave into the chaos of the crowd, he had spoken out about Jesus and had declared that He had done nothing worthy of death. These things make me wonder what life was like for them after Jesus had died, risen and ascended. My heart hopes that because they had been in His presence and had witnessed the heart, humility and grace that Jesus displayed, that their lives were forever changed. This morning, my prayer is that all those around us will see Jesus in us and be drawn into His goodness and grace.

Unlikely allies,

A judge and his wife;

Knew what really was,

And fought for His life.

Yet despite their words,

That which had to be;

The life of Jesus,

For you and for me.

There was not a way,

To bypass the cross;

He was not willing,

For us to be lost.

The joy of it all,

Arrived the third day;

Death couldn’t hold Him,

For He is the way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word is alive and active, and that You show us new things each time we are intentional to invest time in Your word. Thank You that You use unlikely people to show us more of You. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder or for rushing ahead when You always have something for us to learn. Teach us to be intentional in our seeking and listening. Show us more of You in everyday and unexpected places. Lead us to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and grace and penetrate the hardest of hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pause, ponder, and praise You for all that You have done in our lives. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35

Agony and Wonder

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. – (Matthew 27:50-51, NIV)

Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. – (Matthew 27:50-51, ERV)

Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart. – (Matthew 27:50-51, TPT)

Good Friday was a day full of agony and wonder. Jesus endured tremendous suffering in the temple courts, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the soldiers, and went on carrying His cross to the horror on the hill. There Jesus was hung upon a cross between two criminals, mocked and rejected, yet all the while chose to remain in place for a purpose. Not only did He bear the weight of all our sin, but He cried out for God to forgive all who caused Him to endure the agony upon the cross. When He had accomplished all that was intended, He cried out to God and gave up His Spirit. Darkness had overcome the land, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split apart. The tearing of the veil was incredibly significant, as the split opened the curtain to the Holiest of Holies, thus removing the barrier between God and people. Christ’s death on the cross removed the sin and shame that had been cause of the need for the barrier from the beginning. Because He bore our sin and shame, our own behavior that created the divide between us and God, had been removed. In the same way that the rocks were shaken and split, our hearts ought to be stirred to split away from that which keeps us from closeness with Christ. May we be intentional to look to all that Christ endured upon the cross, and give Him praise with awe and wonder at the depth of love that would compel Him to bear all of our sin and make the way for a right relationship with God.

Willing to suffer,

He bore all our sin;

To open the way,

Let new life begin.

It was through His pain,

And all He endured;

That we’ve been made clean,

Granted hope secure.

The goodness that day,

Was promised in three;

A soon empty tomb,

Power to set free.

Let’s look to the cross,

Thank the Lord with praise;

Receive forgiveness,

True hope for all days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible love that sacrificed and endured for our sake. Jesus, thank You for suffering in our place to make the way for relationships to be restored with You. Forgive us for every portion of pain that our thoughts, words and deeds heaped upon You on the cross. Teach us to live in the freedom of forgiveness and grace that grows our hearts to love like You. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your heart visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done, still do, and will continue to do, to make the path clear as we seek to serve and honor You. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

The Second Day at the Tomb

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So, they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – (Matthew 27:62-66, NIV)

That day was the day called Preparation Day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, ‘I will rise from death in three days.’ So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that He has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about Him before.” Pilate said, “Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know.” So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it. – (Matthew 27:62-66, ERV)

 

The somber silence of Saturday, was really not so silent at all. Behind the scenes, those who had accused, tried and crucified Jesus, were now scrambling to make certain that what He had foretold, would not in any way, appear to be the truth. It is almost comical to imagine the Pharisees, chief priests and Pilate as they have their troubled exchanges, as all the while, the disciples are grieving their loss. Stealing the body was likely the furthest thing from their mind. Mary and Martha were waiting to attend to His body, to further treat it properly for burial, but taking His body from the tomb… Eww… What I love most of all about this short passage of scripture, is that Jesus’ accusers took such care to be certain the tomb was guarded and secure from the outside, yet could not control the miracle that was taking place on the inside. Can you imagine the shock and awe that was to come for the soldiers sent to guard the tomb? Soldiers who were to be wary of those who would come near the tomb, would suddenly find themselves face to face with an angel of the Lord, and then the risen Christ himself, less than twenty-four hours later. Jesus was not a liar nor a deceiver. He is the truth, the way and the life. All who choose come to Him, may know love and life everlasting in Him. Though Saturday was somewhat silent, Sunday was on its way!

 

The day in between,The Second Day at the Tomb

His death and new life;

Silence in waiting,

After sacrifice.

Scrambling soldiers,

Sent to take up guard;

They sealed Jesus’ tomb,

All passage was barred.

Pharisees fearful,

Of what Jesus said;

That after three days,

He’d no more be dead.

No sealing nor guards,

Could ever prevent;

Miracle coming,

Sunday’s big event!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us Your goodness, grace and power. Thank You that You demonstrated Your incredible love for us as You willingly went to the cross and died the death that should have been ours, so that we could be forgiven and know life in You. Thank You that the grave was not the end. Thank You that hope rises, and that Sunday is coming for all. Forgive us for allowing our sorrows and grief to feel hopeless and helpless in the tomb of our heart. Thank You that You do Your miraculous work from within, so how things appear do not matter in order for You to move. Show us how to love in ways that offer hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope that is ready to rise, each day, because of the third day at the tomb. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

A Silent Saturday

Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – (Mark 15:44-46, NIV)

 

After the devastation of the cross, a faithful few prepared Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. By sun up, it would be the Sabbath, and no one would be going anywhere or doing anything. The disciples and other followers of Jesus likely spent the day in mourning. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees were not at all at ease. They went to Pilate because they recalled the words of Jesus, and clearly had concerns about what might transpire in the coming days.

 

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – (Matthew 27:63-64, NIV)

 

Consequently, Pilate ordered his guards to make the tomb secure and to stand guard at the tomb. That Saturday, all seemed to be silent. Jewish law kept mourners from moving about and doing much of anything, and I imagine that each of the faithful followers of Jesus retreated to their own homes and pondered all that had transpired in the previous twenty-four hours. It is as if the world stopped spinning, and all were stuck in a silent space of grief and disbelief. For me, knowing the whole story, I am in a space between awe and agony at the weight of all that Jesus bore on my behalf, and the anticipation of celebration, knowing that He conquered death and rose again the very next day.  Today is a space of waiting. Silent reflection and appreciation are what flood my heart and mind. I mourn my own sinfulness, yet overflow with gratitude for the salvation that is granted because He bore it all for me. May we each find our own quiet moments to reflect on the magnitude of what our Maker did for us all as we stay in this space of sacred silence.

 

This day of waiting, A SIlent Saturday

Sabbath long ago;

The Savior, buried,

Seemed hope’s final blow.

The world lay silent,

The Savior was dead;

Where were they to go,

What could have been said?

Silent reflection,

Such grief on that day;

What could have been done,

Unrealized grace.

O painful waiting,

To go to the tomb;

Observe in anguish,

Savior’s seeming doom.

The stillness gave way,

For we know the end;

Death could not hold Him,

As He rose again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin upon Yourself; for we are the ones deserving sanctions of suffering, not You. Forgive us for not fully embracing the weight of what You have done for us, or for questioning whether or not Your sacrifice truly covered it all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the mercy and grace provided at the cross, and demonstrate our gratitude by living a life that ever seeks Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes the promise that joy comes in the morning no matter how dark the night appears, evident. May many come to embrace the grace that You made possible through Your death and resurrection on this holy weekend so long ago. Be glorified O God, as we set our hearts in silent reflection over all that You did to make us acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22