The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered be-fore Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that imposter said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disc-iples go and steal him away and tell people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Matthew 27:62-66; 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 3:23-25
Only Matthew’s Gospel records any activity on Saturday. The disciples must have been exhausted and confused. All their expectations for a new messianic kingdom lie buried in a borrowed tomb. Jesus had predicted his resurrection, but they were yet to understand (Mark 9:32; Luke 24:45-48). The Jewish leaders were aware of his predictions also, and took an extra step to ensure Jesus’s followers didn’t make things worse by enacting a hoax—stealing the body and claiming Jesus was resurrected. The tomb was sealed and a guard put in place.
Jesus was dead. His tomb fortified, his followers likely in hiding, this Sabbath day was relatively quiet. The authorities—Jewish and Roman—must’ve wondered if they triumphed. Was it over? But spiritually, God was working in a special way. Behind the scenes this weekend, in the death of Jesus, God did what the sacrifices and the Law could never do: fully atone for our sin. As finite beings we will never exhaust the wonders of the atonement! The spiritual realities we find at the cross are the most important truths in the universe. A new kingdom was inaugurated as Jesus substituted himself for sinners, and suffered the just punishment of God’s wrath to make peace between us and God.
Jesus is our substitute. After a Passover meal spent remembering God’s deliverance under the substitute sacrifice of a perfect lamb (Ex 12)—Jesus became the sacrifice in our place, paying the penalty of death for our sin (Rom 6:23).
Jesus is our propitiation. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prepared himself for the “cup,” a metaphor for God’s wrath (Ps 75:8)—Jesus satisfied God’s terrible judgment on sin by experiencing all of his anger and wrath.
Jesus is our reconciliation. Crucified, he quoted Psalm 22 as he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—Jesus suffered separation from God (Gal 3:13), alienation from his presence, so we could be brought into it.
Jesus is our victory. In the tomb his lifeless, mortal body was laid; it was finished (John 19:30)—but Jesus was sinless and therefore Death was defeated, as Jesus would soon become the resurrected King (1 Cor 15:54-57)!
Catch up on our 7-day Easter Devotional series: