Great Vigil of Easter, 2010
3 April a. d. 2010
Readings: Ps 27; 1 Peter 3:17; Matthew 27:57.
Jesus the Inconvenient
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my redeemer. AMEN.
Jesus was a liability. An embarrassment.
First, he wouldn’t keep mouth shut. Criticized Pharisees & Sadducees, his own people. Worse yet, he hung around with sinners and for them had good things to say.
Second, he wouldn’t stay put, & couldn’t be kept out of sensitive areas. First in the desert, then in Galilee, then Jerusalem, & next thing you know, he’s in the Temple driving out established businessmen & creating riot. Always turns up wherever least expected & least wanted.
Third, he was intolerant. He insisted on having everything his own way. No talking to Jesus.
Everything about him was inconsiderate, and just plain inconvenient. You just couldn’t get along with him except on his terms.
And now, even in death he is an embarrassment:
Embarrassment to Pilate – evidence of his lack of control over those whom he ought to rule. Evidence of how the Jews could manipulate him even into condemning a man he knew innocent. Evidence of another defeat at the Jews’ hands.
Embarrassment to his own followers – because there he hung, dead, undeniably room temperature dead, after they had given up everything to follow him. Now they had lost everything, and Jesus he was dead.
Embarrassment to the Jews – reminder of their crime in putting an innocent man to death. Reminder of their inability to answer him while alive. Reminder of all their trouble with him. Now in death still trouble, a body hanging from a cross that must be removed or it would defile all their religious observances for the Passover holiday.
So when Joseph of Arimathea shows up at Pilate’s palace begging for Jesus’ body, Pilate is only too glad to give it to him. “Sure – take it. Get him out of sight and into the ground. Let’s put end his inconvenient career once and for all.
Then Joseph and his friends take the corpse to Josephs’ new tomb, lay it there wrapped in a winding sheet, and then roll the stone over the opening and go home. It’s too late to do anything else, and that puts a period to Jesus’ whole short, disturbing, disappointing, & inconvenient career.
But even in the tomb Jesus is still inconvenient to the Jews. When they hear about his burial, they are furious – and afraid. Jesus dead could be even more inconvenient than Jesus alive.
They hurry to Pilate and whine, “While he was alive that deceiver said that after 3 days he would rise again. You need to seal that tomb and make sure it stays sealed until the third day passes. Otherwise, his disciples will sneak in there and steal the body and tell the people that he is risen from the dead. That will be a mess! Then we’ll be worse off than we were before we crucified him.”
But Pilate is fed up with them and their whining, and not in any mood to cooperate. “You have your own guard—go, seal it best you can and you guard it.”
So the chief priests and Pharisees hustle to the tomb and install seals on it, and leave a guard to watch it.
And that would be the last they ever saw of that inconvenient Jesus.
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning,
Is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen.
The Collects for Easter
who for our redemption didst give
thine only begotten Son to the death of the Cross,
and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us
from the power of our enemy;
Grant us so to die daily from sin,
that we may evermore live with him
in the joy of his resurrection;
through the same thy Son Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, who madest this most holy night
to shine with the glory of our LORD’s resurrection:
Stir up in that Church
that Spirit of adoption given to us in Baptism,
that we, being renewed both in body and mind,
may worship thee in sincerity and truth;
through Jesus Christ our LORD,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and evermore. Amen.