“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” Matthew 27:57-66
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
“It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
“It is well with my Soul” vs. 1, by Horatio G. Spafford
The sight of Coptic Christians being led to their slaughter by ISIS terrorists caused shock waves throughout the Christian communities of the Middle East and North Africa. Christians in the Holy Land are asking the question: “Are we next in line?” The persecution of Christians around the world today is becoming as appalling as what befell early Christians during the worst periods of the Roman Empire.
This lent season, Arab Christians will certainly understand what the Bible meant when it said about Jesus that he was “led like a sheep for the slaughter”. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday Arab Christians will be able to vividly identify with the sufferings of Jesus as they mourn their martyrs in Syria, Iraq and in Egypt who were killed only because of their faith in Christ. The wives and mothers of the slain Coptic young men will surely identify with the mother of Jesus and the other women who saw the agony of Christ as he gave his life on the cross.
The good news is that Good Friday and Holy Saturday give way to Resurrection Sunday. It is my prayer that the fresh blood of Arab Christian Martyrs will generate a spiritual awakening in the Middle East that will bring spiritual energy throughout the Christian communities, that will overflow with the power of love, forgiveness and reconciliation and cause the light of Christ to shine with divine salvation and blessings on all the inhabitants of the Arab countries and Islamic world.
Lord, give comfort for those who mourn loved ones who are killed because they confess faith in you. Lord, be with those who languish in ISIS prisons and act to bring them release. Come and touch our hearts and forgive us our tendency to respond with hate and to lust for revenge. Great and mighty God, bless the people of the Middle East and North Africa with your peace. Amen.
– Rev. Alex Awad, GBGM Missionary in Palestine and Israel