“Are you sure He’s dead?”
“A soldier pierced His side. He never flinched. The spirit has left Him. Yes, He’s dead.”
“What do we do now? We can’t leave Him there. Tomorrow’s Sabbath.”
Joseph looked around. His glance landed on the tomb he just had completed. “I’ll see if Pilate will give me permission to bury Him in my tomb. I’ll bring linen back with me.”
Nicodemus nodded. “I’ll get the myrrh and aloe. We must move quick. The sun is low.”
Joseph stared at the young men with him. “Don’t let Jesus out of your sight. If the soldiers take Him down before I get back tell them I’m off to see Pilate. Pray the LORD’s favor.”
Nicodemus turned to the young men with him. He grabbed the sleeve of the closest one. “Stay with Joseph. Carry the linen back for him” He pushed him off, then looked at the others. “Follow me. There are things to buy while there’s still time.”
When Nicodemus returned he found Jesus’ body still on the cross. His thoughts worked through the task at hand. “With the arms pulled out at the shoulders we should be able to take them to His sides if rigor mortise has set in.”
He glanced over at those still witnessing the event. Mary, Jesus’ mother, buried her face in John’s shoulder and sobbed deeply.
John caught Nic’s attention. “Do you need my help?”
Nicodemus shook his head. “No. There’s no need for you to become unclean, too. We have enough help to do this. You’re assignment is heavy enough.”
The centurion approached the soldiers standing nearby. “Take the body of Jesus down. These men will dispose of it.”
Nicodemus’ anger rose in his thoughts. “He’s not refuse. He’s the Messiah…I don’t know why He’s dead.”
Joseph showed up with the linens. “Clear this area for us. Lay enough strips down so He doesn’t touch the ground.”
The crew worked in silence as they meticulously prepared the body for burial as quickly as possible. The shadows were long when they finished.
Joseph stood. “Lift Him carefully. Follow me.”
Nicodemus walked next to Joseph. “Are you sure about this?”
Joseph stared ahead and kept marching. “I only thought I was having that tomb made for me. Whatever I have belongs to my Savior. I can get another one made.”
After the body was laid on the slab the men fought the stone across the opening. A glance at the western horizon displayed only half the sun.
Joseph walked away. “There’s nothing more we can do now. Everybody go home.”
[Tweet “There are times in life the urgent and the important come together.”]
The burial of Jesus was one of those events. Joseph of Arimathea was stationed at the foot of the cross for a divine reason.
He’d just completed a tomb for himself and his family. At least that was his original aspiration for that undertaking.
Tombs in Israel were reserved for the wealthy in that time. Graves were for the poor peasants. A man with means could have a cave hewn out of the rocky hillsides to place his dead body in after he was done with it. More slabs would be carved in there for other family members.
Matthew tells us this was Joseph’s tomb. So, in a literal sense Jesus took his place in death.
Luke and John point out that this tomb had never been used. A totally clean, in every sense of the term, environment was the place of Jesus’ body after He was done with it.
A new day began at sundown in that time. So Sabbath was near when Jesus died. The men needed to move with haste to accomplish this grim task before the law forbid any work being done. There would be no time for any ceremony.
John and the women witnessed at a distance as the preparations were completed.
It was important to all of them that Jesus be buried according to the customs established. It was urgent they do so rapidly. Only time for the essentials was prudent.
Let me stop and ask you an important question. Is there something in your life that you’d be willing to give God if He asked for it?
You may have to make a quick decision like Joseph did. Or, you’ll probably have time to think about it.
The ironic thing is the more likely you are to want to hold onto it, the more likely God will require it from you.
I don’t know what that thing is for you. It’s different for each of us. It may be your life savings you’ve squirreled away for retirement. Or, a marriage partner who walks out on you, or is diagnosed terminally. A wayward child may be your personal possession God wants you to let go of.
We all need to come to the place where we recognize God’s sovereignty over everything. Our plans may need to give way to His ways. Only a personal relationship developed on deep trust can take that step of faith.
I pray you come to that point before the test comes. It will still be difficult to let your burden go into God’s divine hands, but your soul will be able to sleep at night when you do so willingly.
Everything is working together for your good, to become like Jesus, and God’s glory, to establish His kingdom. The question before us now is. Are you going to be a willing participant, or not?
Nicodemus hid in the dark of night to visit Jesus early in His ministry. He boldly became part of the team to bury Jesus at the end of it. His personal relationship obviously deepened in time.
I pray yours does, too. So does God. That’s why He gave us His only Son’s life.
He knew there’d be no other way for us to return to Him.
He gave us His all. Are you willing to reciprocate?
I’ll see you later. Wade