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Saturday 19th April 2014
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Scripture Union

Text: Prepare

As you sit today in the presence of the Lord, rest in the work of the cross that has been done for you, and ask the Lord to prepare you to celebrate his resurrection tomorrow.
Bible passage: Bible passage: Matthew 27:57-66

Jesus Is Buried
57 As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea. His name was Joseph. He had become a follower of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him.
59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away.
61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb.
The Guards at the Tomb
62 The next day was the day after Preparation Day. The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 "Sir," they said, "we remember something that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order to make the tomb secure until the third day. If you don't, his disciples might come and steal the body. Then they will tell the people that Jesus has been raised from the dead. This last lie will be worse than the first."
65 "Take some guards with you," Pilate answered. "Go. Make the tomb as secure as you can." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure. They put a seal on the stone and placed some guards on duty.

Text: Explore the Bible
Secret disciple A wealthy man named Joseph has the courage to go to Pilate and request that Jesus' body be given to him. Although John's Gospel describes Joseph as a 'secret disciple' (19:38), here he shows his commitment to Jesus by offering his own new tomb. (The wealthy prepared for their own death in advance and this kind of tomb hewn out of rock would have been very expensive.) Joseph also has the reverence for Jesus to take the body and wrap it in linen himself - an extraordinarily intimate act by a man who was not a relative. To protect the body against grave robbers, he rolls an enormous stone in front of the entrance of the tomb. And then we read that he goes away (v 60). Ready to serve Joseph of Arimathea is a beautiful example of a disciple who uses the means at his disposal to honour Christ without perhaps fully understanding the significance of what he has done. A secret disciple he may have been, but when the need arises, he is ready to serve wholeheartedly, publicly and unashamedly.
Text: Respond

Think about your own assets and opportunities. What would it mean to put what you have at Jesus' disposal? Ask the Lord whether there is anything specific he wants you to give or do to honour him today.
Amy Orr-Ewing
Text: Deeper Bible study

Only after the death of Jesus do we learn of the faithful vigil kept by the women, at the cross and then at the tomb. Then a wealthy disciple, of whom we have not heard before, uses his social status to approach Pilate for the release of the body. Crucified victims were not usually buried, but Pilate gives permission. These disciples seek to honour Jesus in death, in a way they could not in the final days of his life. There is no hint of hope for resurrection, just closure with dignity. And in case the disciples should try to steal the body and pretend, a guard is placed.
We find Holy Saturday hard to cope with. It is either a day off between the pathos of Good Friday and the joy of Easter, or it is an in-between space which we think we should mark but don't know how. But Holy Saturday is the day of encouragement for everyone whose circumstances seem hopeless, for everyone seemingly beyond rescue, for everyone who can do nothing to change their lot.
There was nothing more final than a sealed and guarded tomb and ruined hopes. The incarnate Son of God lay dead. But in faith he had given his spirit up to the Father. The great purposes of God, revealed in the Scripture which he had fulfilled, time after time, remained. These included his own prediction of his resurrection (v 63). The future depended on the Father's act of new creation. In the light of the events of the following morning, those in the deepest darkness of despair, those who are powerless to change appalling circumstances, those who can do nothing, may trust in the faithfulness of the God who keeps his promises. It may be Saturday, but Sunday is coming.
Graham Cray
Text: The women helping Jesus
The names of the women at the cross are variously given in the different Gospels, but the different names may in fact refer to the same people. Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

Mark adds the name Salome. It is possible that Salome is the person Matthew calls 'the mother of Zebedee's sons'. John adds Jesus' mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas. This may be one and the same person, also to be identified with Salome. Confusing!

If Salome is indeed to be identified in this way, then she was Jesus' aunt, and James and John are his cousins. This may be the reason why James and John were so close to Jesus and why Jesus commended his mother to John's care (see John 19:6).

Luke tells us that many women whom Jesus had healed followed him during his ministry in Galilee, providing for his needs out of their own means. He mentions Mary Magdalene, and also Joanna (the wife of Herod's steward Chuza) and Susanna, about whom nothing more is known (see Luke 8:2,3).

His mother Mary is with the disciples after the resurrection. The last time we hear of her is when they are praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

These women watched from a distance when the other disciples had fled. They prepared his body for burial (women's work in the ancient Mediterranean). Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early on Easter morning and was the first to see the risen Lord. They may have been one of Luke's sources when he wrote his Gospel.
Text: Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year. Today's readings are:

Judges 19,20

Psalm 44

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