The Death of Jesus
(Matthew 27.45-56; Mark 15.33-41; John 19.28-30)
44Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. 45 The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple split down the middle. 46 Jesus shouted, “Father, I put myself in your hands!” Then he died.
47When the Roman officer saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Jesus must really have been a good man!”
48A crowd had gathered to see the terrible sight. Then after they had seen it, they felt brokenhearted and went home. 49 All of Jesus' close friends and the women who had come with him from Galilee stood at a distance and watched.
Jesus Is Buried
(Matthew 27.57-61; Mark 15.42-47; John 19.38-42)
50-51There was a man named Joseph, who was from Arimathea in Judea. Joseph was a good and honest man, and he was eager for God's kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided.
52Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 53He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in fine cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that had been cut out of solid rock and had never been used. 54It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus' body was placed in the tomb. 56 Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands.
We all keep secrets. What secrets do you keep and when will you choose to reveal them?
Joseph of Arimathea had two: He was eager for the kingdom to come and he loved Jesus Christ, whose death had been instigated by the Sanhedrin Council (of which he was a prominent member).
You read the text and you sense Joseph’s compulsion to honour Christ with as dignified a burial as possible. Peter follows Jesus from a distance and denies. Joseph denies also. He refuses the legality of the Council’s decisions and boldly requests Jesus’ body from Pilate. His secrets are out! Unlike Peter, Joseph draws close and with Nicodemus’ help he takes down Jesus’ bruised body, wraps it in fine cloth and lays it to rest in his own burial tomb.
The supposed criminal – Jesus Christ – is buried in the tomb of a rich member of the Sanhedrin. In the dark and gloom of this day, Joseph has risked his life. He has risked his clout as a prominent member in the Council. He’s chosen to publicly stand for Jesus – no matter the cost. In stark contrast, Peter, the public disciple, could not risk his life.
The text doesn’t tell us what Joseph must have felt as he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, dressed it, laid it in his tomb. “All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them, ” says Jesus (Matthew 16:25). Joseph gave up his secrets that day. What did he find?
And what will you find?
Risen Lord, we want to publicly stand for you, especially in areas where your peace and justice need to flow. We need your Spirit to help us discern where, when and how we need to stand. In Jesus’ name. Amen.