We often talk about what happened on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. But in between those 2 days, what was happening behind the scenes?

Matthew tells us in his gospel account in Matthew 27:62-66:

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 
63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 
64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 
66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

SCENE

The Day of Preparation was what they would refer to as the day before the Sabbath. Mark 15:42 makes that clear – “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath…”

Now, the chief priests and Pharisees spoke to Pilate for they remembered what Jesus said in John 2:19-21, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.”

They were afraid that Jesus’ followers might come and take his body so that they can say that he rose from the dead.

SITUATION

As a result, Pilate told them to have soldiers guard the tomb and try to make it as secure as they could. It didn’t seem to bother him as much as it did the Pharisees and chief priests.

SIGNIFICANCE

God was setting up the scene for the greatest event in human history. What man tried to stop, God wasn’t going to allow. He has ordained the days and His plan of redemption was already in motion.

1. However we try to stop it, God’s purpose will always prevail.

The Pharisees made sure that there were guards to secure the tomb. God had other means to get Jesus out of there.

2. What seemed unbelievable became undeniable for nothing is impossible with God.

Securing the tomb wasn’t difficult. The stone was heavy. The Roman seal on the tomb couldn’t be broken or else severe penalty was certain. And guards watched over the place with their own lives. But what seemed unbelievable in due time became undeniable. Jesus indeed was risen.

3. God’s power is at work even when we don’t see it.

From the outside, it was quiet in the tomb. However, a miracle was about to unfold. Many times, we may not see the miracle of God as it is being prepared, but it is on its way for sure.

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I was told to stay home during Black Saturday.
I couldn’t play with my friends because it’s a day of mourning.
I was also told that I couldn’t laugh or even smile because “God is dead.”

I could understand the significance of the day for it is a good moment to reflect on what Christ suffered. But at the same time, I was thankful that someone explained to me through the Scriptures that the fact is, God’s not dead. He is more alive than you and I are. His death accomplished more than we can ever wrap our brains around.

It was at Calvary that a Divine Exchange took place:
He took all our sins and we took on His righteousness.
An unfair exchange indeed but a amazing one nonetheless.

Let me share 3 words that were so highfalutin and foreign to me that I began to appreciate even more as I studied them.

1. EXPIATION

Expiation means the removal of our guilt and sin. Jesus’ death removes (expiates) our sin and guilt. What we feel as guilt coupled with the reality of it are taken away from us and placed on Christ who discharged it by his death on the cross.

John 1:29 calls Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.”

2. PROPITIATION

While expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath towards us because of sin.

Jesus died on our place to remove the wrath of God that was to be poured out upon us. This was something we deserved for we have offended a holy and righteous God.

But because of His love, He poured all His wrath on His Son at Calvary. He removes His wrath and turns it into favor.

Hebrews 2:17 tells us that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people.”
1 John 4:10 tells us that “this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The wrath we deserve, Jesus took upon Himself so we don’t suffer its consequences.

3. RECONCILIATION

While expiation is the removal of our guilt and sin, and propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation is the removal of our alienation from God.

Sin separates us from God. There is a huge wall that divides when we sin against God. But Jesus’ death removed this wall of alienation and, therefore, reconciling us back to God.

Romans 5:10-11 tells us “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.”

All these took place when Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried.
He died so we can have life.
He was wounded so we can be healed.
He was punished so we can be forgiven.
He endured rejection so that we can be accepted by the holy and righteous God.
He was cut off so that we may be joined to the Father.

As the Hebrew writer declares, how great a salvation we have!
Black Saturday is not at all that dark. In fact, it was something necessary for Him to go through so that we can enjoy what we have today.

Rejoice! He is not dead. He is alive. And what He accomplished, He did for you and for me so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him!

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Most will acknowledge that they have offended a holy and righteous God.
Many realize that they haven’t lived a perfect life.
And hordes will admit that they displeased their Creator.

But here’s a question many ask:
Can God not just grant divine amnesty and declare,
“By My authority, I now give you divine pardon!”

Did Jesus really have to come, become like one of us and die a torturous death on the cross?

Some of you might remember, there was a time when the people of God were held in captivity under the rulership of the Egyptians. God always wanted a people of His own but because they were under slavery, they weren’t their own nation.

God was calling them out through Moses but Pharaoh didn’t want to let His people go. To convince Pharaoh that it was He who was calling them out, He had to send 10 plagues to communicate to Pharaoh that Yahweh is the Lord. The last plague was the plague of the first born where all the first born was going to be visited by the angel of death.

But God’s instruction to His people was to get a lamb, cook it as their meal.
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.03.11 AMHowever, they are to take the blood and wipe it on the doorposts of their homes so that when the angel of death comes, it will recognize the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. As a result, the angel of death will “passover” their home.

It was the last straw that caused Pharaoh to release God’s people from the clutches of the Egyptian hands. From that time on, it became an annual celebration meal of God’s redemption. You could just imagine the first born during that very first Passover meal thinking,

“The only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table (the lamb) isn’t.”

Fast forward about 1500 years later, Jesus was having a Passover meal with His disciples. He took the bread and the cup, gave thanks and distributed them to His disciples. The meal was complete except for one thing – the lamb. They were probably thinking, “we have the bread and the wine, but where’s the lamb?”

And here’s the clincher:
“The lamb was not on the table for The Lamb was at the table.”

It was the night before Jesus was going to be crucified.

Why did Jesus have to die?

1. Sin’s payment was death. Sin is a capital offense. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid for our death so we can live.

2. Only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty. Only Jesus could fulfill this since He was both fully human yet fully God. The sacrifice had to be a perfect, unblemished, sinless sacrifice.
God made Him (Christ), who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

3. A Holy God cannot allow sin go unpunished.
Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe to save a people who owed a debt they couldn’t pay.

That’s why when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This sacrifice no longer just covers our sins, He is able to completely wash it away.

All we need to do is to trust His atoning work in Calvary.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is a reason to rejoice!
This propels us to worship!
This truth will result in a life of gratitude!

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What’s so special about Mandy Thursday? I understand Friday for that’s when Jesus was crucified. Saturday was when Jesus was in the grave. As for Sunday, it was the greatest event in all of human history.

What happened on Thursday? And why’s so “maundy” about it?

Maundy comes from the Latin word where we derive the word ‘mandate’. It was a day where a command was given by Jesus. It was on the night before he was betrayed where He took the cup and the bread, blessed and gave thanks to share the meal with His disciples.

It was during the meal that Jesus took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around His waist and started to wash the disciples feet. So what was the “mandate” that made Thursday Maundy?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What He did (washing the feet of his disciples) preceded what He said (love one another).

It was a powerful moment for if He only told them what they needed to do, they would most likely obey but the impact wouldn’t be as intense and compelling.

If their Master could serve them the way He did, how much more can they do the same to others?

His command to love one another is an overflow of the love we have received.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION APPLICATION:

1. Pray to Jesus now and thank Him for His sacrificial love to take our place on the cross for He died on our behalf. He paid the debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

2. Pray for someone now to know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior (family member, friend, officemate, classmate).

3. Text that person a verse to encourage and reflect on what Jesus did on the cross.

Since I grew up in a single parent home, I remember growing up (together with my siblings) with our househelpers. One of our ate’s, her name was Luz, had lots of things she downloaded to us during Holy Week.

Here’s Ate Luz’ top 5 things she told us every time Lenten season hits.

1. I can’t play during Holy Week, especially on Black Saturday since Jesus was dead.
2. I can’t take a shower on Good Friday, especially after 3pm. This one, I didn’t really mind as a kid. Haha!
3. Bad spirits are out during Holy Week because Jesus is dead.
4. Load up your amulets (anting anting) with prayers for more power. This one, I didn’t really understand.

No. 5 was my favorite…

5. I can’t cut my nails on Good Friday because just in case I cut my skin and wound it, it will not heal for a very long time.

Funny but for a long time, I held on to these beliefs as well.

But if there was one thing I learned and held on since I gave my life to Christ was the fact that Jesus took my sin and as a result, what I got was His righteousness. It was indeed an unfair exchange.

John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

In the Old Testament, the Passover lamb would only ‘cover’ the sin of the people. And it was for a limited time and a limited geographical location.

However, when Jesus came and died, He didn’t just cover my sin. He took away my sin.

Ps. 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

My greed, lust, imm0rality, pride, hatred, anger, unforgiveness… the list goes on and on and on…

All those, He took.  Bible scholars call that as imputation. My sin imputed on Him and His righteousness imputed on me. Unfair deal? You bet. But I’ll take it any day.

Listen to what Martin Luther said,

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” 

Result?

A grateful heart.

Jesus, thanks! I am forever grateful!

I’m not that bad, right? Compared to Hitler or Osama, I’m not a bad guy.

For sure, you and I can argue that point. And a thousand to one, we will win it.

However, that’s really not the point. We’re not as bad as those guys are. But we’re all as bad off as those guys.

Sin in its original meaning is ‘missing the mark.’ If hitting the bullseye was perfect obedience to God’s commands, then missing the target would be a transgression.

Now whether you miss it 5 millimeters or 5 meters, the fact is that you still missed it.

There’s no such thing as sort of bullseye.  It’s either a bullseye or not a bullseye.  Thus, there’s no such thing as “I sort of sinned.” It’s either I sinned or I didn’t.

So if I sinned and fell short, together with the rest of mankind (Romans 3:23), then there’s a debt I owe. Paying for that debt would be the logical thing to do.

However, the requirement God had for debt of sin to be paid was death. Not death by anyone, but death of an unblemished and perfect lamb. (Check out my last post here.)

This where the concept of substitutionary sacrifice comes in.

The penalty for my sin can be paid for by substitution.  But it needed to be by a perfect sacrifice. Thus, being imperfect myself, I am unable to pay for my debt.

Someone perfect, without sin had to take my place.

In this case, Jesus did.

Jesus paid the debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.

This is an unfair deal. For sure. Yet it was the Great Exchange. My sin for His righteousness and His righteousness for my sin.

To this Paul makes a declaration,

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

What a great salvation we have!