~By Pastor Mark Minor, Whittington Church
Time: Thursday Morning
Location: Bethany, a small village on the back side of the Mount of Olives and a 3 mile walk to Jerusalem
The rooster crowed at early dawn, awakening Jesus from what would be his last ’sleep’ on Planet Earth. Seems only fitting that the last time Jesus would lay down his head to sleep would be in a borrowed bed in the home of his very good friend Lazarus. He had arrived on earth in a borrowed bed… he would depart in the same manner.
Undoubtedly he knew of the events about to unfold. It was the day of Preparation for Passover. Shortly, he would direct Peter and John to go to the home of an acquaintance— probably the home of a young follower named John Mark— and prepare an Upper Room in their home for the 13 men who would dine together there that Passover eve. And so all was ready…
Time: 6PM Thursday evening (the beginning of the Jewish day)
Location: The Upper Room
Jesus shares a last meal with the men he chose. Earlier, he washed the feet of all Twelve of his Disciples. Now, while dining, Jesus tips the hand of the betrayer Judas and quietly dismisses him into the Jerusalem night.
Transforming the Passover observance into a Memorial Meal with his startling pronouncement, the remaining disciples nod and question but barely understand. And then it was night.
Time: 9PM Thursday evening
Location: Garden on Gethsemane
Jesus and his Eleven disciples journey to the familiar location of an olive press on the side of the Mount of Olives. There in a grove of trees, Jesus prays while his Faithful sleep. Then mob arrives, and all chaos breaks out. The sign of the Kiss identifies the target. The soldiers arrest him and Jesus is hustled to the High Priest house for what would be the first of the four interrogations Jesus would endure during the next 12 hours in route to his final destination.
Time: 9AM Friday morning
Location: The Judge’s Seat at the Governor’s Residence
A mock trial at the High Priest’s home… to the brutal taunting of King Herod soldiers… to the scourging of Pilate… all led the tired, bloodied Son of God to hill called Golgotha. He carried his cross as far as he could. And then he was nailed to it. Stripped of his garments… he was hung between Heaven and Earth.
Time: 3PM Friday afternoon
Location: A Hill called Golgotha
From almost noon until now, a spiritual darkness covered Jerusalem. Cries of pain and loss were mixed with jeers and mockery. Around 3PM, the Man in the Middle cried from his Cross “IT IS FINISHED’. And so it was! The Earth shook, rocks exploded, the Temple curtain was torn. Jesus, the Son of God, was DEAD!
Time: 5PM Friday afternoon
Location: A Pathway from the Hill Golgotha to a nearby tomb
Prying the nails from the dead hands and feet of this ‘Savior’, an odd parade of people formed the funeral procession to the gravesite. A Pharisee named Nicodemus and a rich citizen named Joseph struggled to carry the lifeless corpse down the hill and along the quarter mile or so path to an empty tomb. Alongside were a gaggle of weeping women: mother Mary, Salome the mother of James & John and a ’lady’ of Magdala… also known as Mary. Arriving at the cave, Joseph hastily wrapped the body, Nicodemus spread the 75 pounds of spices over the dead man… and the large stone wheel was rolled in front of the tomb’s door. Rest in Peace!
And now we arrive at a most incredible period of time— the time Jesus spent buried in the Tomb. The next 36 or so hours are perhaps the most blessed, mysterious and precarious time span in the history of the Universe. All Heaven sighed. All Hell cowered. All Humanity hung in the balance of what would transpire in those 36 hours.
Time: 5:30PM Friday evening
Location: The Tomb of Jesus
Most of what we know about those 36 or so hours Jesus’ body was inside the tomb comes to us, not from the Gospel accounts but from the Holy Spirit inspired writings of Peter and the author of the book of Hebrews. Two particular incidents provide a window into the marvelous workings of salvation and grace occurring during these 36 hours. Let’s take a look…
The earthly body of Jesus may have been resting in the Tomb, but our Lord Jesus was very busy in the Spirit as he fulfilled the logistics of our Salvation. In Hebrews we read of what seems to be a journey of Jesus to the Tabernacle of Heaven.
Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ came... he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
Is it possible that during the 36 hours while Jesus’ body was laying dead in the Tomb, while the Priests of Jerusalem were bringing the sacrificial blood of the Passover lambs to the earthly Temple, that Jesus was entering a Heavenly Temple with his own sinless blood (the blood of the Lamb) to make the ‘once for all’ payment for our sins?
Then there is the passage in 1 Peter 3 that suggests another destination of Jesus during those 36 hours while his earthly body was in the tomb:
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.
Is it possible that during the 36 hours of Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday morning, Jesus had a speaking engagement… making proclamation to ‘imprisoned spirits? Seems so.
Without any guessing, this we know for sure. Sometime early Sunday morning, to the cheers of Heavenly chorus, the moans of the demons of Hell, and the inexpressible gratitude of a lost human race LIFE flowed back into the cold dead body of a sinless Son of God. Weeping was turned to dancing. Jesus rose from the dead!
Time: Easter 2011
Location: Planet Earth— with its wars, earthquakes, financial downturns and sorrows.
He is still Risen! He is still Alive! And Jesus truly is Lord of All.