He Gave the Body

14 Apr
 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.                   —Mark 15:42-47

He gave the body to Joseph.

Pilate gave the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council.

This week I have been thinking about the hours between Jesus’ death and entombment, and I have many questions.

  • Who took Jesus’ body off the cross?  The Roman guards?  Joseph of Arimathea?
  • Did they lower the entire cross?  Just the cross bar?
  • How did they get the large spikes out of the wood?
  • When Joseph picked Jesus’ body up, did he gaze into His lifeless eyes?
  • Did Joseph understand what he was doing in the grand scheme of God’s plan?  Did he wonder how everything would work out?  Or was giving Jesus a Jewish burial an act of love for One he believed was gone?

I imagine Jesus’ limp body in Joseph’s arms and a sob catches in my throat.  I see him struggle under the weight of a lifeless body, and watch him lay it down in a cold tomb with only a torch for light held at a distance by a curious on-looker not wanting to come in contact with death and become unclean for the Sabbath.  The water, brought in a bucket from a sympathetic woman, weeps, as Joseph solemnly washes blood caked with dust and human excrement from his Rabbi.  There was no time for the spices and compounds to be applied before the setting of the sun signaled the Sabbath, so Joseph swaddled Jesus in clean linen, and closed the tomb with a boulder.  He had done what he could.  He had honored his dead Lord.

—————

This week as I have contemplated the phrase “he gave the body” the above questions and scenes swirl together in my mind dream-like, with another, more immediate, idea.

(Before I mention my thought, I have to say that I know Mark 15 is not a symbolic or metaphorical passage.  However, I believe that the principles throughout Scripture are not opposed to my idea, and in fact support its essence.)

Pilate gave the body of Jesus, bloodied and broken, to Joseph who prepared it for the greatest miracle the world will ever know.

In a similar way God gives the Body of Christ to worship leaders every Sunday morning.  He places His Beloved in our arms– wounded, broken, abused, and weary people.  The Father allows us the privilege of leading them before His throne of healing and grace, where He tenderly binds up aches and washes away filth, preparing them for His Resurrection power.

—————

Heart check for Sunday–

What in me is broken, aching, or wounded and needs God’s healing?

Am I praying for the people I will lead tomorrow, asking God to show me how he sees them?  (Or am I preparing so that I will look good?)

Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father – my calling, my abilities, and the ones He gives me to lead – and is a sacred trust from Him.

Father, work through me for Your sake and theirs.

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