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Daily Devotion for April 4, 2015
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
A haunting song from Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil.
Blagosloven yesi, Ghospodi.
Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lyrics from Psalm 104
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Oh Lord, our days pass as quickly as the grass in the field, and our bodies are laid to rest just as the body of Christ. We remember this day, when Christ's body was laid in the tomb; for like the Father, He found rest on the seventh day, before His glorious resurrection. Let me not fear the end of life, but let me always remember that after the death of the body, a glorious rebirth awaits all who die in the faith and fear of Christ.
Prayer for Peace
We thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. We appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
[The mystery of Christ after His death and before his Ascension.]
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 34:19-20 (NKJV)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
John 19:31-42 (ESV)
The Burial of Jesus
Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” [Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:11-13; Psalm 34:20] And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” [Zech 12:10]
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was 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 away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night [John 3:1-15], came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
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. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Notes on the Scripture
Without going into the gory details of death by crucifixion, the reason the legs of the crucified were broken is that it guaranteed they would die quickly, and the reason the soldiers pierced Jesus' body with a spear is that blood and water flow faster from such a wound if the person has died. The Pharisees, who didn't want to dirty their hands by actually performing the crucifixion themselves, compounded their hypocrisy by avoiding tending the Jesus' dead body on the Sabbath — and especially, the Sabbath of Passover.
The part about "the man who saw it" is interesting. John wrote his account based on a story told to him by an unnamed person, who was present for the events. Nicodemus is another interesting character. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and is mentioned in the Gospel of John (but not the other gospels) three times. It was he who insisted that Jesus have a trial before he could be condemned. (John 7:51). And at the end, Nicodemus proves to be a secret admirer of Christ, by spending a great deal of money, and risking his life, to care for Christ's body.
Fear was rampant among Christ's followers. None of the apostles dared to get involved. As we learn later, they were hiding in a locked room. Joseph of Arimathea was a bit braver, perhaps because he was not as well-known as the twelve apostles. He managed to get Christ's body without exposing himself to the Jewish officials. He therefore went to Pilate, who really did not want to see Jesus crucified in the first place. He knew that Pilate was unlikely to stir things up further by accusing any of Christ's sympathizers; Pilate's primary concern was to prevent public unrest.
Jewish law requires that a person be buried as quickly as possible, at least within 24 hours; however, burial is a task that cannot be performed on the Sabbath. So the two men hurried to get Jesus into an empty tomb (most likely before nightfall).