Saturday came, and Jesus’s body had been laid to rest. The horror that was the crucifixion was complete. A stillness took the stage as the story’s climax seemed to have passed.
Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man who was a disciple of Jesus, had taken the body from Pilate and quietly laid it and sealed it in his own tomb. The Pharisees set a guard for the tomb and the 11 disciples were nowhere to be seen.
For the past three years, Jesus had guided the disciples, revealing to them the secrets of the kingdom, showing them His power, teaching them how to teach others, and pushing them to follow Him beyond what they could merely comprehend. Now, hours after their leader was made silent, the disciples folded up and hid in fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were so afraid and confused that they basically shut themselves in for two whole days.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. (Mark 8:31-32 ESV)
Jesus had told them what would happen. He would be given over to the priests. He would be killed. He would rise from the dead. Just think of what impact they could have had if they had gone about telling people He would come out of the grave and more people could have been aware when He actually got up. You would think if they had really believed Him they might have found a way to show their confidence. Yet they laid low, paralyzed by fear.
But before we rush to judge some guys who didn’t have the benefit of history, let’s think about what we would actually do in their shoes. Let’s think about what we do when the Living God we trust and depend on seems absent. Let’s consider the sad truth that, at times, we live as if He is still in the grave, even though He is risen.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20 ESV)