Lent Devotional Day 43

Day 43
Wednesday, April 5

John 19:38-42

Jesus’ body is buried

38 After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. 39 Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all.[a] 40 Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. 41 There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.

There’s something about Joseph of Arimathea to whom I’ve always felt a strong connection. He
seems like a wise, calm, and thoughtful guy. He doesn’t strike me as someone who wants to be
in the limelight. In fact, it seems like he may have dealt with some fear and difficulty living on
the outside the way he felt on the inside. I get that. In some ways, Joseph of Arimathea was a
closeted Christ follower. And honestly it makes sense – it doesn’t seem like it was a very safe
time to be “out” about his beliefs. Anyone who has been in the closet knows that it feels scary.
The stakes feel really high about whether to speak up or to stay silent. It comes with so many
complex emotions and layers. It’s not a simple thing to navigate. And here Joseph of
Arimathea is trying to deal with the brutal murder of the spiritual leader he secretly believes in. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like, but I’m sure that he spent time carefully considering what to do next. This is what he came up with.

Joseph decided to speak. Wow! That is a huge deal and probably put him at risk. Joseph
asked for Jesus’ body and Pilate said yes. During the night, he took the body and followed the
Jewish burial customs. He spent a sizeable amount of money, buying the very best – myrrh,
aloe, and spices. He took Jesus’ body to a new tomb that had never been used. (Some think it
may have been Joseph’s own tomb!) And honored this person he loved with a proper burial.

This always strikes me as a very sacred moment. What’s more intimate, private, or vulnerable
than dressing a dead body? The dead body of the Divine Son. It’s such a profound paradox.
God in physical form, severely bruised and beaten – lifeless before him.

It made me think. I wonder if there are things in our lives that feel lifeless before us. Maybe we
carefully and gingerly wrap them for burial. Maybe we believe we are saying goodbye to them
for good. Maybe we have the slightest bit of hope that they may resurrect and be a part of our
story again. Maybe the burial process is costly or illogical. Maybe we are beyond words
because of the sadness and grief in our hearts. How do we exist in this sacred place of the
tomb? A space where something so precious has died and nothing yet has brought us new life?

By Steffeny Feld

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