26 March 2016
Holy Saturday Matins devotion
Behold, the servants of the Lord, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Judas, have deal prudently with the Messiah, though they knew not what they did. What they meant for evil, God used for our good. The Son of Man has been exalted on the cross. Let us extol Him there.
Yesterday, we were astonished. His visage was so marred, his body so bloody and bruised, that He looked inhuman, a piece of beef hanging on a hook, a worm and no mat. But that bleeding has sprinkled many nations. Let us extol Him for it.
The Messiah has grown up before us as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He had no form nor comeliness. Even now there is no beauty that we should desire him, no clever argument that will win the masses, no show of power to convince the world. He was despised and rejected of men. He still is. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: And even we, His own baptized, hid as it were our faces from him; He was despised, and we esteemed him not, yet He remained faithful to us.
And what was displeasing to the eyes, was pleasing to faith. There is no beauty in all creation as “Father, forgive them. Today you will be with Me in paradise. It is finished.”
Here is beauty for eyes that see: He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way. Repent. Return with St. Peter. Come back with St. Thomas. Do not try to seize him like Mary, but accept His rebuke and His mercy. He calls you by name.
The Lord hath laid on Christ the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not his mouth. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment to the Place of the Skull and John’s prophesy was fulfilled: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living. Mary Magdalene will. She will go and tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” St. Peter will: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” St. Thomas will: “My Lord and My God.”
We are His generation. We will declare it.
For the transgression of our people was He stricken. And He made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death; Because He had done no violence, Neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He hath put him to grief.
That is what we commemorate today: the Lord’s Body in the grave. But we know where it is headed.
He has made his soul an offering for sin, He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. We are His seed. He has saved us from the devil. He rests in the grave with the wicked, in the tomb of a rich man, but having seen of the travail of his soul, He, the Messiah, shall be satisfied. What satisfies the Messiah? The salvation of the world, the reconciliation of sinners to His Father, the resurrection of the dead. By His knowledge shall He justify many; For he shall bear their iniquities.
He hath poured out his soul unto death: And he was numbered with the transgressors;
And he bare the sin of many, And He made intercession for the transgressors. His prayer has been heard. The violence has ended. His rest is drawing to a close. The stone shall soon be rolled away.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.