The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
All this time the soul of Christ remained with the spirits of the dead, in Abraham's bosom, in the Limbo of the Fathers, Hades or Hell, telling them of the redemption he had wrought by his Passion and his death. We can imagine with what joy the holy souls received him, when he came to announce to them the joyful news of their redemption, as was foretold : " Wilt thou show wonders to the dead ? Or shall physicians raise to life and give praise to thee ? Shall any one in the sepulchre declare thy mercy and thy truth in destruction ? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark, and thy justice in the land of forgetfulness ? " (Psalm Ixxxvii. 11, 13.)
All this time, while the soul of Christ was in Limbo his body lay in the tomb. The moment life leaves the body it begins to corrupt, millions of microscopic plants and animals attack it, and leave it not till they reduce to the crude matter the materials of which it was formed. But corruption never attacked Christ's body. For it was the body of God. The Deity was united to it, as in life. It was a part of his human nature, and it was to be again united to his soul as was foretold, "Moreover my flesh shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance; at thy right hand are delights even to the end." (Psalm xv. 10, 11,)
Jonas, a striking figure of Christ, cried out from the living tomb in which he lived three days: " I am cast away out of the sight of thy eyes, but yet shall I see thy holy temple again . . . but thou wilt bring up my life from corruption, O Lord, my God." (Jonas ii, 5, 7.)
Christ many times had said he would rise from the dead as the prophets foretold: " I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me." (Psalm iii. 6.) " Now will I arise, saith the Lord." (xi. 6.) " Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord, arise and cast us not off to the end." ( lxvii. 23.) " Arise, O, Lord, help us, and redeem us for thy name's sake." (Ibidem, 26.) " Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered." (lxvii, 2) "Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion, for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time has come." (ci. 14) " Arise, my glory, arise, psaltery and harp: I will arise in the morning early." (cvii. 3.) " I rose up and am still with thee." (cxxxviii. 18)
The royal prophet, David, speaking in the person of Christ, foretold his Passion, death and resurrection. " My enemies have spoken evil against me, when shall he die, and his name perish? All my enemies whispered together against me, they devised evils to me They determined against me an unjust word, shall he that sleepeth rise up again no more? For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread hath greatly supplanted me. But thou, O Lord, have mercy on me and raise me up again, and I will requite them " (Psalm xl. 6-11.)
The prophet Sophonias in the days of Josias king of Juda wrote: " Wherefore expect me, saith the Lord, in the day of my resurrection that is to come." (Sophonias i. ii. 8 ) " Sing ye to the Lord, praise the Lord because he hath delivered the soul of the poor out of the hand of the wicked." (Jeremias xx. 13.) " I am counted among them that go to the pit free among the dead. Like the slain sleeping in the sepulchres." (Psalm Ixxxvii. 5, 6.) " And what shall be answered to the messengers of the nation? That the Lord hath founded Sion and the poor of his people shall hope in him." (Isaias xiv, 32.)
And thus they read the prophecies from the scrolls of the holy books, and Mary laid up all these words in her heart, and the disciples pondered over them, and thus they again retired to rest as they had done the night before.
We left the five hundred soldiers, and the Temple guards around the tomb. Back and forth they passed, armed as on the battlefield, bound by that famous Roman discipline, which was death for them to break. They changed the watches every four hours. They rested when off watch loitering in the garden, passing the time resting, sleeping, playing dice, telling tales of their feats of valor, mocking Jewish customs, telling funny stories—in a word as soldiers do all the world over. To come near that tomb, to steal away the the body was death. They were ordered to guard it, and they would with their lives.
If he did not rise, faith and hope in him are vain; but the providence of God placed that Roman and Jewish guard around his tomb to prove his resurrection. The Sadducee priesthood did not believe in the future life, and they laughed to scorn the idea of the resurrection of the body. They rejected the utterances of the Old Testament relating to the life beyond the grave and when texts were brought before them, they said the words were only poetic expressions of the prophets. They brought the example of a man marrying a brother's wife before Christ, and the woman with seven husbands, (Bekhor i, 7.) and with a sneer they asked him whose wife she would be in the world to come. They asked him for a sign, and he told them, the only sign he would give was that of the prophet Jonas. " An evil and adulterous generation seeketh for a sign, and a sign shall not be given them but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." ( Matt, xii, 39-40,) He was not to remain for full three days and nights, but for a part of the first and last days and during the whole of the Sabbath rest.
All was calm and silent round the tomb. Six Roman soldiers stood before the sealed door. The Jewish guards still standing by, the men were pacing back and forth, hardly expecting disciples would dare to try to take away the body.