Saturday of Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 19:38-42 (NKJV)
19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Joseph and Nicodemus were not rejoicing as they interred Jesus’ body in the new tomb. There was only sorrow and sadness that day. But their sorrow would be turned into joy on Sunday when they heard that the one whom they had buried was now alive. We are able to rejoice at the burial of Christ because we live in the knowledge that Christ is risen from the grave. Everyone is saddened when they remember that each must die and be laid in the tomb. But all who are baptized see that Christ, by being buried, has sanctified the graves of the saints. The baptized have nothing to fear from death. Our Lord has gone that way before us and emerged victorious over death.
We also rejoice in Christ’s burial because St. Paul tells us that in holy baptism we were buried with Christ, and in His resurrection we were raised with Christ. Being reborn through the water of holy baptism, we are to mortify the Old Adam, our sinful nature, by daily repenting of sin, striving against it, and trusting in the promise of the Gospel. For the faithful baptized, the burial of Christ reminds us that we are buried with Christ, therefore death will be conquered in us at the resurrection on the Last Day. Christ’s burial also reminds us to daily put our sinful nature in that tomb so that we might daily rise to new life, with new movements of the heart that truly love God and our neighbors.
We pray: Heavenly Father, we give You hearty thanks for our new life in holy baptism, that You have forgiven our sins and raised us up in Christ Jesus. Grant us strength to daily bury the old Adam in us, so that You may raise up the new man to walk in righteousness and purity. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.