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Sunday Surprise

By Will Thomas | retired pastor who resides in the Chicago area.

It was a cool spring night in the city. Caiaphas went to bed early. It had been a long day and an even longer week. The business day for the Jewish high priest had started long before day break that Friday. He had agreed reluctantly to hear the case of the Galilean. It had all taken place under the cover of darkness to prevent His followers from inciting a riot.

The trial went just as planned. Witnesses provided ample evidence against the Troublemaker. The council voted, and the verdict was announced. The Roman authorities gave their approval. By 9 a.m. the next day, the soldiers had taken Jesus to Golgotha. At 3 p.m., it was finished.

Sleep would come easy to Caiaphas that night. He was tired, but he was also relieved. Jesus has caused trouble for months. His teachings had upset the rabbis. Rumors of miracles had put the masses in a stir. Caiaphas never would forget the hysteria when the Galilean had paraded into town to shouts of the crowd just a week before. The incident at the temple mount was the last straw. The normally meek and mild Teacher went on a rampage through the outer courts, turning over tables and chasing out the merchants.

One troubling report followed another all week long. The Roman governor had warned him to get the problem under control, or he would find a high priest who could. Caiaphas didn't need to be warned twice.

Late in the week, the security police made the arrangements. An inside source provided the needed information. Jesus was now history!

Before going to his chambers, Caiaphas finished one last piece of business. He signed the request for a cohort of Roman soldiers to guard the tomb through the night. The last thing they needed was for the Galilean's followers to make trouble. Caiaphas and all the other Jewish authorities went to bed on Friday, content to be solved the Jesus problem. They thought it was over. They didn't expect the Sunday surprise.

But God raised Him from the dead! (Acts 2:24)

Jesus' friends also thought it was over. Unlike Caiaphas, few of them slept that Friday night. Never mind they hardly slept the night before. They were too heartbroken and scared to sleep—heartbroken that their Friend, Hero and Teacher had been killed, and scared they would be next. Most had scattered on Friday morning. A few had stayed with Him to the bitter end. They had stood near the cross and watched Him take His last breath. "It is finished," He said. Then He died. It was over.

His followers couldn't let the Romans dispose of Jesus' body as they would a common criminal. Joseph, a well-connected follower, had requested that Jesus' body be placed in his new tomb. Some women made a temporary preparation of the body for burial. Doing the job correctly would have to wait until after the Sabbath. That could wait. It was over. On Saturday, some of the followers huddled together in prayer. The braver ones ventured to the temple. Others quietly began the preparations for their return to Galilee. They had no reason to stay in the city. Jesus was gone. They thought it was over. But God raised Him from the dead!

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