Tag Archives: blood of Jesus

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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The life is in the bones

14 Jan
All my bones shall say:
    O Lord, who is like you…     Psalm 35:10
 

Stopping short on this verse, folded inside David’s cry for deliverance, I wondered aloud, “How do bones sound when they praise God?”

My question prompted a 2-day archaeological dig through Scripture searching for bone references.  Carefully, I brushed the dust of familiarity away from well-known verses–

  • Adam said that Eve was “bone of my bones” after God created her from one of his ribs (Gen 2:23).
  • Ezekiel spoke the Word of the Lord over the dry bones in the valley, and they came back to life as a vast army (Ezek 37:1-14).
  • None of the bones of a Passover Lamb could be broken (Ex 12:46) which foreshadowed the prophecy about Jesus on the cross (Ps 34:20; Jn 19:36).

But my question remained – what do bones sound like when they praise their Maker?

I dug further into the layers of the Word.

Relationship

While we say, “flesh and blood” to describe close family ties, the Hebrew phrase throughout the Old Testament is “flesh and bone” (2Sam 5:1, among many others).  This is the absolutely strongest relational tie.  My bones praise God because I am His– He created me (Ps 139:13-14); He has adopted me (Rom 8:15); I am a co-heir with Christ (Rom 8:17).  Already, I feel praise and thanksgiving to Him rising up in my bones!

Strength

From a purely organic perspective, bones are the strongest part of our bodies.  When my dad’s remains were scattered beside his favorite wilderness lake, we were told to keep our distance because his ashes included bone fragments the crematory fire could not burn up.  (The pastor didn’t want us to freak out if we caught a glimpse of pieces that used to make up his body.)  The Bible speaks of the blessing of strong bones.   Strength is paired in Proverbs 3:7-8, and elsewhere in Scripture, with wisdom (most notably – Rev 5:12).   My physical strength praises Him (I have a sudden urge to run around the room and do push-ups!); as does the foundation of strong character based on Godly wisdom.

Any wisdom I possess is from God and for His praise.  Relying on my own wisdom always gets me in trouble – it saps the Godly strength available to me.  David had the same problem.  In his anguish when confronted with his sin, he felt as if God had crushed his bones (Ps 51:8).  Oh that I would rely solely on God’s wisdom and my bones would rejoice!

Life

Over the last few months we watched our neighbor across the street fight against the deadly assault of leukemia.  His doctors used all the weapons in their medical arsenal, but remission remained elusive – too elusive for the bone marrow transplant he desperately needed.  New, healthy blood cells grow in the marrow, continuously replenishing life.  Ironically, he was not healthy enough to withstand the procedure that would restore his blood and give him new life.

In several places the Bible says that the life is in the blood.  The metaphor of sacrificial blood being shed to pay for sin and bring new life is unmistakable.  But the actual physicality is just as compelling – the life is in the blood, and the blood comes to life in the center of the bones.  Therefore, the source of life is, literally, in the bones.  (Excuse me while I go get a drink of milk!)

Our Western culture elevates the heart as the source of life.  While it is true that life ceases when the heart stops beating, this muscle is simply a delivery pump for the life-giving blood.  Bones are the life-source for the source of life.   This gives loving the Lord with all my “heart, soul, mind, and strength” deeper shades of meaning (Deut 6:5; Luk 10:27).  I love Him with the deepest and newest fibers of my being, with my very life as it is continually renewed at the cellular level without my conscious involvement or awareness.  New blood cells even now are flowing from my marrow into the tiny capillaries that infuse my bones, and I hear humming emanating from my bones like chant flowing from a stolid cathedral at Matins.

Another question

My understanding of the three verses at the top of this post also expands in light of these other passages.  Eve was bone of Adam’s bone – she was as close to him relationally as it was possible to be and still exist as a separate person.  She was created out of the strongest part of his being and from the source of his life.  Ezekiel’s dry-bone army was rebuilt as strength and life flowed into them from the Spirit of God– a prophecy of hope when Israel had none.

None of Jesus’ bones were broken when He was on the cross so that the Old Testament prophecy mentioned above would be fulfilled.  But why was the prophecy given at all?  Why would it be important in the glorious story of redemption that Jesus’ bones remain intact?  His blood, shed for me, was produced and protected in His human bones, bones His Father protected from being broken during His Crucifixion.  Could it be that God created this system– the strongest living tissue producing and protecting the source of life– to be ready for the most precious substance in all His creation: the blood of His only Son?

I am in utter awe.

What bones sound like

I still can’t describe the sound, but as long as I have breath, the rocks will not cry out– all of my bones will say: WHO IS LIKE YOU, O LORD!

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