LENT DAY 40 - Saturday, April 7
Mark 15:42-47 Burial
"Late in the afternoon....Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Jewish Council, came ... He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.... Having already purchased a linen shroud, Joseph took him down, wrapped him in the shroud, placed him in a tomb that had been cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the opening." (The Message)
The account of Joseph of Arimathea taking down the now dead body of Christ is found in all four of the gospels. Joseph is a very rich, highly respected member of the Sanhedrin, and, like Nicodemus, a secret follower of Christ. But, also like Nicodemus, perhaps yet unwilling to openly reveal his allegiance. Joseph shows courage in approaching Pilate for the body.
Who was Joseph of Arimathea? What thoughts were in his mind? Was he chasticing himself for not speaking up? What was it like to take the body down from the cross? I envision a slow, loving wrapping of the shroud. Does Joseph have any grain of expectation in his heart that this isn't the end, but the beginning?
We must bury the human Jesus to allow the divine Christ to rise again. But have we buried Christ too deeply? Have we rolled the stone too tightly, and failed to realize that God has rolled it away and is expectantly waiting for us to notice?
I couldn't help but go to Google again today to ask my first question, Who was Joseph of Arimathea? What a wealth of Biblical and historical fact, perhaps fiction, perhaps speculation of the life of this man. Probable fact: He was Jesus' great uncle, the brother of Mary's father; he was a very rich merchant in metals, especially tin; he traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean and as far as England; he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, but a secretly a follower of Christ. And then the speculation, some derived from historical sources, but....I would have to do a great more research. It did make for very interesting reading: Joseph established Christianity in the British Isles between 37 and 65 AD, long before the Roman Catholic Church was established. Joseph was the guardian of the Holy Grail, the cup used in the Last Supper and reportedly used to collect the blood of Jesus during the crucifixion. As I read through the last portions, parts of Indiana Jones and the DaVinci Code were running through my head!