by Becky Herren (with a great deal of help from NT Wright)
“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the council. He was a good and righteous man, and had not given his consent to the court’s verdict or actions. He was from Arimathaea, a town in Judaea, and he was longing for God’s kingdom. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. “ Luke 23: 50-52
Where would you have been that day? Perhaps hiding in a back room afraid to go out in case the authorities got you as well! Maybe you were running into the desert, away from the city, to weep and wait and cry your eyes out because everything you had hoped for had come crashing to the ground! Could you be at home staring at the wall in a state of shock, unable to speak or think or pray? I suspect some stories were like that.
Holy Saturday was the moment when darkness had descended and there was nothing to make you think that everything would be all right. The worst had occurred and nothing would ever be the same. If you have had someone you loved die or you have experienced a great tragedy in your life—then you have a glimpse of how Jesus’ followers must have felt that day.
Did these followers not understand that He would rise on the third day? Jesus had told them what would happen! The disciples had been expecting Jesus to bring in God’s kingdom and never had they thought it would involve his crucifixion by pagan authorities.
But one or two people, acting perhaps out of habit, knew that something still had to be done after the cruxcifiction. Can you hear Joseph of Arimathaea telling his wife “someone has to do it.”? Or his wife telling him that what he is about to do is dangerous and he could be killed. And worse yet, Joseph is going to take the body and bury it in their tomb!
So Joseph goes off to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus. More than likely Pilate was only too ready to grant the request and be rid of the entire matter!
Two or three other followers know what they have to do as well. They look upon this as a small faithful thing but they are being prepared to be faithful in a much, much larger thing—a more thrilling task than any human has ever been given before.
Our part today is to be prayerfully faithful in the small things that we can see need doing. We cannot tell what God will then do.
Prayer: Try to find some time today to be absolutely still and to imagine Mary and the disciples utterly drained and utterly numb. Try to imagine what it must have meant to say over and over again, “Jesus is dead.”
Additional Scriptures: Psalm 95; 88; 27 /Lamentations 3:37-58/ Hebrew 4 1-16/ Romans 8:1-11