GRANT, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 St. Peter iii. 17. St. Matthew xxvii. 57.
In today’s Gospel the Chief Priests ask Pilate to set a guard on the tomb. They were concerned with his words that he would rise again in three days. They claimed that his disciples might remove him and then claim resurrection. This seems like a cover for the real fear that he might rise in truth. It was widely known that he had raised several from the dead.
Pilate’s response was short, but may have been full of meaning. He had become anxious at the words of Jesus during the trial. He had tried to release Jesus repeatedly, but the crowd and religious parties demanded the crucifixion. Pilate had washed his hands earlier that morning, and by so doing declared himself done and separate with the affair. He witnessed the sky turn dark and the earth quake. He called the Centurion to verify that Jesus had indeed expired on the cross in such a short time. (This was likely the same Centurion who had glorified God at Calvary.) Now, when the Chief Priests petitioned him again to intercede, he avoids any involvement saying, "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can." His words sound like a challenge.
Nothing could stop the course of events that God had initiated with the ministry of His Son – the gates of Hell could not prevail against the Kingdom, what chance did a handful of guards have?
1 St. Peter iii. 17.
IT is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
St. Matthew xxvii. 57.
WHEN the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
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