Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:57-61
After his shocking and agonizing death on the cross, Jesus was laid in a new tomb.
For the entire night, and day, and night following his death, his lifeless body lay in that tomb.
His heart did not beat, his lungs provided no oxygen to his bloodstream, his brain waves, if they could have been registered, would have shown no activity. Minute passed minute, beyond the reach of resuscitation, and then hour passed hour, each passing moment declaring to the heavens and the earth that the unthinkable had taken place.
The one who commanded Lazarus’ dead body out of the tomb, who rebuked demons and summoned health with a word, was dead.
We must consider the shocking mystery of this time between Jesus’ final cry on the cross and the earthquake of triumph on Sunday morning. The person of the Son of God exists, by a miraculous loving choice, with two natures, one divine from eternity and one human from the time of his incarnation in Mary’s womb. These natures are now permanent to his person — he never ceases to be incarnate, not for eternity, and not during those endless hours when he was dead in that Jerusalem tomb. His undying divine nature is not more true of his person than his human nature.
And what is true of each nature is true of the person of God the Son. So, during that night, and day, and night, following the great and final Passover, God the Son truly knew death in himself through his human nature. The mystery is that the Divine Son could experience what only mortals can face — the curse of death. Yet the mystery is not just the death itself, but the meaning of death itself as a curse.
“In the day you eat of it, you will die.”
God had told Adam and Eve that with sin would come the certain wages of death. Jesus had never sinned. He had been born without a sinful nature and so had not inherited Adam’s guilt. He was owed no wages of death. Yet he was as surely dead as every corpse in every morgue and every man and woman in every graveyard of this fallen world. Yet every other person who has died has been sinful in nature and in action and thought. All except Jesus. The mystery is that the sinless one could experience what only sinners are due, the curse of death.
The death and the fact that death is a curse reserved for sinners, are both mysteriously magnificent truths in this night, and day, and night, after the cross.
This mystery is not concealed from us in complete incomprehension, but revealed to us in incredible majesty. It is revealed so that we can reflect in awe and worship with affection. The Eternal Son experienced lifelessness. The righteous one was paid the wages of sinners. Imagine the wonder of Heaven that day, and let us allow this magnificent mystery to wrap our souls in humble, sober delight.
During Holy Week, your pastoral team will share a daily devotion from Palm Sunday until Resurrection Sunday. Christ is risen!