On Holy Friday evening we are given the Gospel reading according to Matthew (27: 62-66) in the service book of Holy Week and Easter, used widely in the Orthodox Church. The Pharisees are gathered before Pilate remembering that Jesus, (whom they referred to as an "impostor") predicted that after three days He would rise again. And, thinking that His disciples could steal Him away, and tell the people that "He has risen from the dead," would make it a greater "fraud" than the first. Pilot told them to "make it as secure as you know how." They made the tomb as secure as possible, sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Their plan failed, while His disciples, afraid of the same fate, were found to be hiding when the news came to them. Matthew 28:2-10 (Sunday: Christ is Risen) tells us -- "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men."
"But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."
On Holy Saturday evening the words of the ninth ode cut to the heart when Jesus says "Mother, it is of my own will that earth covers me, but the gatekeepers of Hades shudder seeing me clothed in a robe stained with the blood of vengeance. For as God, having vanquished the enemies on the Cross, I will rise and magnify you."
"Let creation rejoice; let the earthborn be glad; for Hades the enemy has been despoiled. Let the women meet me with fragrant spices; for I liberate Adam, with Eve, and all their line, and on the third day I will rise."
"Having become earthly, though the Creator, You made the earthborn new; the shroud and the tomb merely manifest the inherent mystery, Word of God. For the respected councilor carries out the will of Your Father, who renews me gloriously in You."
"You transformed the corruptible into in-corruption and showed it to be the fountain of resurrection into life immortal."
"This is the day of resurrection! O people, let us be radiant. It is Pascha, the Lord's Passover; for Christ God has carried us over from death to life, from earth to heaven, as we sing a victory hymn."
Christ is the only way, only hope and the salvation of our souls. Glory be to His saving passion and resurrection.
Christ is Risen, Indeed He has Risen!
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