“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26
Today’s Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:62-66
Saturday must have been a very sad day for those close to Jesus. It was also the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. Scripture doesn’t mention what Jesus’ followers did on this day, except to mention that the women, who had earlier been busy making preparation for Jesus’ burial, are today taking the traditional Sabbath rest.[i]
Though the Jewish people may have refrained from working on this day, it certainly didn’t stop their leaders from further scheming. You would think that with Jesus dead, and his body lying in a tomb, his enemies would be satisfied. But they weren’t. These Jewish leaders hated Jesus, but not as much as the threat he posed to their power. And that threat still remained so long as the people believed he lived. And why might they believe Jesus lived?
Before his death, Jesus had made veiled references to his own resurrection following his death.[ii] The Jewish leaders were concerned his disciples might steal his body from the tomb and claim he had risen from the dead. This would be a never-ending threat to their authority. The burden of proof would be upon them to demonstrate Jesus was indeed dead. And without a body, they could never prove that. The dead body of Jesus was important for them to preserve, for this reason.
Their plot was to convince Pilate to secure the grave, protecting it from any mischief. The Jewish leaders pleaded their case with Pilate and he gave them what they wanted. Pilate allowed the Jews to use the resources of Rome to guard the entrance to the tomb, even using a Roman seal to secure its entrance. With the seal attached, the stone could not be moved without the seal being broken, proving mischief.
The body of Jesus proved that Jesus was in every way dead. His body was broken and he bled out . . . and died. That’s not a topic usually appropriate for mealtime discussion. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we celebrate it! We celebrate his death because it’s what secured our life and freedom. It secured all of this because Jesus did indeed die, paying the price for our sins! But also because we know Jesus ultimately doesn’t remain dead. So, there’s victory in his death. Therefore, we proclaim it, and do so until he returns in glory. We proclaim his death when we gather together. We proclaim his death when we disperse throughout the community. We proclaim it inside the church and proclaim it outside the church. With our words and with our lives, we proclaim Jesus and his death . . . until he returns!
- Are you proclaiming the death of Jesus through your words and through your life?
- Do you regularly participate in the Lord’s Supper with the church body?