Friday, 1st April
Reading John 19: 38-42
At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.John 19:41
The coming of the Messiah wasn’t supposed to end this way many would be thinking, and while we know the story goes on, it would be with heavy heart that two wealthy men, a Pharisee (Nicodemus), and a member of the Sanhedrin (Joseph), get approval from the highest authority to lay Jesus in a grave, rather than be left to vultures as was the norm for those who had suffered the punishment of crucifixion. These two men have come to believe in the teaching of the Christ, and although not of the twelve, and not related to the family, take on the highest level of unclean duty, tending to a dead body.
Everything around the burial speaks of the importance of the individual. The grave is not the normal mass grave of a criminal, that the burial could be done for someone supposedly accused of insurrection, that the body was released to a non family member, and the quantity of spice used is exceptional. None of this would normally happen, but then again it suggests that Pilate knew he had presided at a kangaroo court, and that the man who is being perfumed, wrapped and sealed in a new tomb is Jesus, not only “King of the Jews” but the King of kings.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had previously been secretive about their seeking to follow Jesus, but with these actions there would be no doubt as to their position, they are now open for ridicule among their peers, perhaps even suffering persecution. This at a time when others were, perhaps, ready to fall away from thinking of themselves as disciples. As the eleven prepare to lock the upper room door these two are stepping into the public’s gaze. Do you let your faith be known, even where that may lead to others thinking less of you? What would you do to serve the Lord that others may not?
Let us pray giving thanks that Jesus suffered in our place, taking our sins upon him that we may be forgiven.
May we also pray for those who serve communities in ways we may not. The past year of the Covid pandemic has been exceptionally challenging for funeral directors, and staff at crematorium and cemeteries. As we think of those who care for those we love and have lost, may the Lord’s presence uphold them.
** Our Good Friday service is at 10am