Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Way of the Cross (40)

It's the last day of Lent, forty days since Ash Wednesday (not counting Sundays, which are Feast Days), and Easter Eve. It should really be the end of our series, but we'll continue another couple of days to include another couple of great prophecies of what the Lord Jesus would do when he came.

It's the day after Good Friday, the day before Easter Sunday. An in between kind of day. Neither one thing nor the other. Having been laid in the tomb before sundown on Friday (the beginning of the Sabbath), Jesus remains in the tomb on Saturday. Three days he is in the tomb, before being raised on Sunday. What should we think of today? What else, but the sign of Jonah?

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

The Lord Jesus not only regarded Jonah as a historical figure, but also as a sign pointing to his own work of dying and being buried before being raised from the dead. Even as Jesus is buried, his work continues, charted out in advance through the predictions of the prophets, and in this case the prophetic action of the pathetic prophet.

In contrast with the first disciples, who spent that first Easter Eve in fear, wondering how things had turned around completely within a week, we know how the story ends. It's hard to 'unremember' it, but we don't have to - we can celebrate every day as Easter people.

At the same time, Jesus so fully identifies with us that he even goes to the grave, lying in the tomb for us, and our salvation. He has passed through the valley of the shadow of death - we need not fear the grave. It cannot hold us.

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