Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

A Dead Man Named Jesus

“A dead man named Jesus" (Acts 25:19).

Death is never easy to deal with.

Most of the time we can avoid it or postpone it or keep it far away from us. But sometimes death stares us in the face and we don’t know what to do or how to respond.

The four gospels do not tell us much about what happened on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We know that after Jesus died, the disciples stayed behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19). Their fear was well-founded because on that Saturday the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and asked him to order the tomb sealed to prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus’ body (Matthew 27:62-66). After the resurrection, those same religious leaders would bribe the guards so they would spread the rumor that the disciples had indeed stolen Jesus’ body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15). In a bizarre twist, Jesus’ opponents had a greater belief in his resurrection than his disciples. The only other detail we know about Saturday is that because it was the Sabbath, the women who were with Jesus at the cross rested according to the commandment (Luke 23:56).

In the various Christian traditions this day goes by several names: Holy Saturday, Great Saturday, Easter Eve, and Silent Saturday. There are not many liturgical practices associated with this day. It is meant for rest and reflection because on this day Jesus “rested” in the tomb. Often this day is used to prepare food for the great Easter celebration that comes on Sunday. Some churches celebrate the Easter Vigil that begins after sundown on Saturday night.

It is a long day, this Silent Saturday. In many ways it represents life as it is for all of us. Though we like to say that we live on the other side of Easter, and that of course is true in the ultimate sense, it is also true that we live somewhere between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The crucifixion is behind us, but death is still with us and the final victory lies somewhere in the future. Every funeral reminds us that “the final enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death was defeated by Jesus, but it has not yet been destroyed. That happy day is still in front of us.

The message of Holy Saturday is, “Get ready. Something is about to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.” Thank God, we’re not moving back toward the crucifixion. It may be Saturday but we’re moving toward Easter. Sunday’s coming. All we’ve got to do is hold on a little while longer and Sunday will soon be here.

Keep the faith, brothers and sisters. Yesterday our Lord was crucified. Today his body lies in the tomb. Tomorrow he rises from the dead. Saturday can seem like a long day–and it is–but be of good cheer. The crucifixion is behind us, Saturday will not last forever. Sooner than we think, Sunday will be here.

We are Easter people marching from Good Friday through Holy Saturday on our way to Easter Sunday. We’re not quite there but we’re moving in the right direction.

It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s coming. Let that thought give strength to your heart today.

O Lord, waiting is so hard. And waiting is what this day is all about. Grant us faith while we wait so that we will not lose heart but will be ready to rejoice when Sunday finally comes. Amen.

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

The One They Have Pierced

“The one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

It is not often appreciated that our Lord Jesus died in terrible pain. If you run the clock back from 3 o’clock in the afternoon—the moment of his death—back to about 3 o’clock in the morning and review what had happened to Jesus as he moves through those hours—what you discover is that our Lord Jesus Christ has just been through 12 hours of torture.

Arrested in the middle of the night.
Slapped.
Pushed around.
Mocked. 
Slapped again.
Crowned with thorns that went into his scalp. 
Scourged with a large strap studded with bits of bone and stone and metal. 
His beard ripped out.
Beaten again and again.
Nails driven through his hands and feet.
Crucified. 

At this point a strange question comes to mind. Was Jesus a failure? You could make a good case that the answer is yes. Just look at his life. He was born into an unimportant family in an unimportant little village. He was ignored, he was taken for granted, he was laughed at. When he speaks, the powers that be want nothing to do with him. He faces ridicule, opposition, and misunderstanding all his life. In the end he is crucified like a criminal. His sufferings in those last few hours are unspeakable. When he dies he appears to be yet another forgotten footnote in history. Working with the facts on one level, you could make the case that our Lord was a failure.

But his death is not the end of the story.
Jesus did not fail in what he came to do.
He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will.

Run to the cross. Cling to it. Embrace the sufferings of Christ. Though this cannot lessen your pain, it may give you strength to carry on. Jesus suffered before you; he also suffered for you. Child of God, remember this: As Friday comes before Sunday, so the cross leads on to the empty tomb. And there is no resurrection unless there is first a crucifixion.

On this Good Friday, let’s make our prayer the final verse of O Sacred Head Now Wounded.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

Man of Sorrows


"Christ Carries the Cross," El Greco, ca. 1580s.

“He was . . . a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

Did you know that the Bible never tells us that Jesus smiled or laughed? I’m sure that he did, but the gospels never mention it. Isaiah 53:3 calls him “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” When he was born, Herod tried to kill him. When he began his ministry, the people in his hometown took offense at him (Mark 6:3). In the closing hours of his life, he was betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter. His sufferings did not begin on the cross, but it was his suffering that led him to the cross.

It is said that Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century first penned the words to the hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded. The second verse speaks to the issue of our sin and the death of Christ:

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor, and grant to me thy grace.

That verse captures the whole problem of the human race—"mine, mine was the transgression.” We’ve done well in that department, haven’t we? Our sins have cut us off from God so we are left to our own feeble devices. Most of us think of ourselves as pretty good people, or at least we’re not as bad as the fellow next door. And it’s true—we haven’t done every terrible thing that others have done. But still our hands are not clean. We have cheated. We have lied. We have gossiped. We have falsely accused. We have made excuses. We have cut corners. We have lost our temper. We have mistreated others. When we finally get a glimpse of the cross of Christ, we see how great our sin really is. In the light of Calvary, all our supposed goodness is nothing but filthy rags. 

Isaiah 53 contains the good news we all need. He was bruised—for us. He was wounded—for us. He was beaten, betrayed, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified—all for us. Our sins drove Jesus to the cross. But he did not go unwillingly. If our sins drove him there, it was his love for us that kept him there.

If you want to go to heaven, pay attention to Isaiah 53:6. In the King James Version, it reads this way: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Notice that it begins and ends with the word “all.” One man gave his testimony this way: “I stooped down low and went in at the first ‘all.’ Then I stood up straight and walked out at the last ‘all.’” The first “all” tells us that we are sinners; the last “all” tells us that Christ has paid the price for our sins. Go in at the first “all” and come out at the last “all” and you will discover the way of salvation.

After Calvary, God has nothing left to prove to anyone. How can you doubt his love after you look at the bleeding form of Jesus hanging on the cross?

We understand our own sorrows a bit better when we see them refracted through the bloody haze of Good Friday. See him on the cross, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He knows what you are going through, he will personally comfort you, and in the end, you will be blessed.

How beautiful are your wounds, Lord Jesus. How amazing your grace to those who attacked you. You were truly a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. By your stripes we are healed and through your death we are forgiven. Glory to you, Lord Jesus, for your suffering has set us free. Amen. 

Click here to download the free Lenten ebook "Lord of Glory."

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

A few days ago I recorded a special Good Friday message called "A Time to Die” that will be broadcast on American Family Radio (AFR) three times this Friday:

April 18 11:05 AM CT AFR and AFR Talk
              6:05 PM CT AFR Talk
              6:30 PM CT AFR


On Easter Sunday they will broadcast my message called "Going All In” on the resurrection of Jesus.

April 20 2:30 PM CT AFR Talk

Also on Sunday, you can listen an interview I did with Kim Ketola on the Cradle My Heart broadcast on how to find healing after an abortion. The program ended up being all about God’s mercy and forgiveness when we have sinned. Hope in Christ shines through every part of the program. Click on this link to listen. Here are the details:

April 20 8 PM CT Cradle My Heart Radio

Please pray that God will use these broadcasts to draw many people to Jesus. Since this is Holy Week, Christians everywhere are meditating on the death and resurrection of our Lord. But millions of people who don’t know Christ are thinking of those same events and wondering what it all means. What a wonderful opportunity to share Christ! Since these broadcasts will go out over the Internet, that means people around the world can hear the Good News of Jesus and be saved.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

About Dr. Ray Pritchard

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 39 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and four grandchildren grandsons: Knox, Eli, Penny and Violet. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.

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