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Jesus died about the ninth hour or 3 pm on Thursday of Passion Week.  He and His disciples had celebrated the Passover the night before, based upon an earlier sighting of the new moon at the beginning of the “moonth”, which is not uncommon with a lunar calendar.  But for the religious leaders who had Him put to death it was the day of preparation for their Passover, which would begin at sunset.  Thus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world died at the exact same time they were offering their Passover lambs.  Also beginning at sunset was the first day of Unleavened Bread which, according to the Law of Moses, was a “high day” with a required sabbath on which no work could be done; Exo 12:16, Joh 19:31.  His enemies had assigned Him a grave with the wicked but God had ordained that He would be with a rich man in His death (Isa 53:9).  And so before the sun had set about 3 hours later, Joseph of Arimathea had removed Jesus’ body from the cross and laid it to rest in his own new tomb, sealing its entrance with a large stone (Mat 27:60).  This added to the forebodings the religious leaders were already experiencing from the unnatural darkness and other portents surrounding Jesus’ death that had begun to unnerve them.  For Joseph was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, and his actions served to honor rather than further stigmatize Him as they had hoped.  Their apprehension greatly increased that evening as they sang the traditional Hallel Psalm 118, which recalled for them much of Jesus’ ministry which they had rejected in the days before and concluded with “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”.  According to the word of the Lord to them two days prior, it was at that time, for just an instant, that their eyes were opened to see Him for who He was; see Mat 23:39.  And although they tried to close their eyes to it and convince themselves that He was just a deceiver, in their heart of hearts they realized what they had done.  But rather than repenting to see if Jesus might rise again from the dead as He had said (which they understood not as we do today in terms of a glorified, resurrected body, but as a resuscitated-from-the-dead body like those He had raised) they doubled down on their darkness, hoping with the help of the Roman guard to keep Him dead.  But “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Psa 2:4).  Looking back in hindsight at how spectacularly they failed, while at the same time believing they actually stood a chance of somehow prevailing against the Lord God and His Christ (Psa 2:2), what ought we to understand about the deceitful nature of our sins that will utterly destroy us if we cling to them, and hence the only remedy for deliverance from them?  Gen 3:7-10,21, Mat 1:21, Luk 13:3, Joh 8:34-36, 12:24-26, 1Pe 4:1-2. 

Besides the religious leaders meeting with Pilate to address their foreboding that Jesus might actually rise from the dead, what is the only other thing Scripture records that happened on the Friday after His crucifixion?  See Luk 23:56.  As they had often accused Jesus of violating the Sabbath, why was it especially hypocritical of the religious leaders to meet with Pilate on that day since it was a required sabbath for the first day of Unleavened Bread, but not necessarily wrong for the women who followed Jesus to prepare spices to anoint His body?  Recall that since Jesus and His followers had celebrated the Passover the day before on Wednesday evening, Thursday—i.e., the day He was crucified—would have been the first day of Unleavened Bread and a sabbath for them, but not Friday.  How does this also help us to understand why His supporters would have been less active on Thursday so as to be late to learn about the trial that took place early that morning in order to possibly convene themselves to support Him?  Is it possible that this even figured into the decision by the religious leaders to arrest Jesus and prosecute Him to death when they did?  As the natural inclination of His followers would have been to do what they could to assist Jesus, which could easily have exposed them to great danger, what does this also teach us about the way the Lord through His sovereign timing of events actually protected them from potential harm precisely by their faithful obedience to the spirit of His law?  Is it possible that the Lord also protects us in similar ways, but only as we are also faithful to obey the spirit of His law? 

Consider that since the Jewish leaders celebrated their Passover on Thursday evening, Friday would have been a required sabbath for the people of Jerusalem, which would also have limited Jesus’ followers from doing much other than what could be done in the homes or other locations where they were staying, such as preparing spices and perfumes as Luke records.  For anything lacking in their preparations they would have to wait until after the Sabbath on Saturday evening or Sunday morning to purchase it; see Mar 16:1.  Consider then that as dark as those days were for Jesus’ followers and as much as they would have longed for the ability to do something to prevent His death or stand up against the injustice of what had happened, what had God ordained for them to do on those days?  Why is it significant that for three days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, all they could do was rest, as Jesus did in the grave, and wait to see God’s salvation?  Cf. Exo 14:13, 2Ch 20:17.  What does this remind us about the certainty of God’s salvation, and our need to not be anxious, but to rest in Him and wait patiently for it?  Cf. Psa 37:1-15, 40:1-3, Isa 25:9, Mic 7:7.

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