Outstretched Arms of Grace: Holy Saturday

In this Holy Week series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of grace” toward all who followed him as disciples. Many sought to emulate his humble life, obedient self-sacrifice, and unconditional service to others…what will be your response today? As you pray and reflect, behold his glory, believe his message, belong as his beloved disciple, and become more and more like his image, with more of your true identity in Christ Alone.

Holy Week: The Grand Finale

Read John 19: 38-42

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. With his permission, he came and took Jesus to a tomb that had never been used. Before placing him there, another disciple Nicodemus brought along a mixture of 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. The two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped it with the spices and placed him in and among clean strips of linen. They placed Jesus in the tomb. There his body lay, in a solitary cave with a large stone covering the doorway. Guarded well.  Sealed.  Protected.  Alone.

After the upheaval of the previous day, the shared grief of watching Jesus suffer and die, today is left for quiet mourning and reflection. How had the outstretched arms of love led Jesus to such a lonely place?

We wonder the same ourselves, now two millennia later. The Jesus we watched grows from the infant miraculously born to the virgin, under the watchful tutelage of his carpenter father, and among his siblings in a crude home in Nazareth. His wisdom and stature and favor with God and man expanded exponentially over the years until he was baptized, tested, blessed and sent out to fulfill his mission.

We noted with the gospel writers his calling of the disciples to cease being fishermen to become instead fishers of men. We watched with awe his miraculous turning of water into wine, making right that which was wrong, healing hurting bodies and troubled souls, welcoming children and strangers, teaching in parables, and ushering in the Kingdom of heaven.  We learned from his example of caring for the suffering, advocating for the weak, encouraging the broken-hearted, and restoring blind eyes, closed ears, and forgotten souls. We listened intently to his every word, and our lives are forever changed.

And now we walk with Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb. And we wait and watch with those who are stunned and doubting, and yet hoping and praying for a miracle. It’s the day after we saw Jesus die so miserably on the cross. We can hardly get the sights out of our minds eye, the smell out of our nostrils, the sadness out of our hearts. It was horrible to stand by helplessly as the victim of such cruelty was our friend, our teacher, our mentor, our guide. We trusted him, walked with him, and now we mourn.

Is it all going to end in this tragic way? We’re no longer all together. We’re stunned and saddened. We’re not sure what’s next. We hope. We pray. We linger. We trust. We rest. We wait.

Behold Jesus in our memories and now in the tomb; believe in the words he once spoke as truth; belong to the ones who hold fast to his promises; and become a member of the family of Jesus who forever sing his praise as the One who came to life miraculously and will rise again miraculously once more. Amen.

For additional reflection today, prayerfully consider the words of this ancient Holy Week hymn, “Were You There?” written by African-American slaves in the late 19th Century:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

 

SHARE THIS POST

Can't find what you're looking for?

Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

Detailed Biography
Articles by Stephen Macchia
Author Website
Schedule a one-on-one with Steve

Fill out my online form.

Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.