Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:62-66, Luke 23:54-56, Isaiah 53:8-12
I must confess something: I’m one of those few weirdos that embrace all things “the algorithm.” Turn on location services? Of course! Personalized recommendations, yes. Accept cookies? Please and thank you! I tell people that my wife and YouTube’s “Recommended” videos are the two people who know me the best. The funny thing about this mysterious algorithm is it’s not random—it’s curated content. Have you ever seen an ad that made you think, “okay…how did it know that?!” The mystery is that we can’t see how it works, but it’s quite revealing as to who it thinks we are.
There are a few things about today’s reading that strike me. Without looking back, do you know who wanted Jesus’s body sealed up and guarded? Did you remember that it was the “chief priests and the Pharisees” (Matthew 27:62–66)? They were the ones who gathered before Pilate! The crucifixion story records Jesus’s true disciples watching the ordeal from a distance, yet they weren’t begging to be near His body. I found it interesting how those who killed Jesus were the most afraid of Him, now He was dead. Matthew isn’t whitewashing the truth: he, like the algorithm, has exposed what was truly going on. It may not have been what people saw then, but this is the actual reality exposed.
Another surprising thing is the respect the priests and Pharisees had for Pilate—and stark lack of it for Jesus. In verse 63, we read the Pharisees calling Pilate “sir,” which in Greek is kurios—the same word used to describe Jesus repeatedly in all four Gospels. Certainly, the contempt they must’ve had for Jesus was great—just a chapter before, the same men calling Pilate “lord” were chanting “[Jesus] deserves death!” While spitting on Him, beating, and slapping Him, they mock Him saying, “Prophesy to us, Messiah!” (Matthew 26:67–68). But oh, the irony! The revealed enemies of Jesus were the ones who remembered the promised resurrection.
I’m grateful Scripture gives us a peek into what happened between Friday and Sunday. Holy Saturday—what a great way to describe it! It wasn’t focused on Christ’s disciples, but by using contrast, I see it as even holier after realizing everything people did to keep it anything but.
Those examples aren’t the only irony to be found. In their attempt to bury and forget Jesus of Nazareth, the Pharisees threw fuel onto the fire. How much greater evidence of a miracle it is, when the extra protection proved the Savior’s power even more! No rocks or seals placed by men or an army of guards could keep Jesus in that tomb. Because Scripture gives us truth (no algorithm involved), we get to experience profound revelation.
Written by Canaan Chapman