Jesus buried

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

Jesus dead and buried meant to the disciples that whatever it was that was coming, that they were anticipating, even if they would acknowledge that they had more questions than anything else, was now dead and gone. Ended. Period.

Unlike the Eleven, Joseph of Arimathea (along with Nicodemus in another gospel account) felt far enough removed from Jesus to not feel threatened by his sentence and execution. He did what needed to be done in honoring Jesus.

Metaphorically, I would like to think that whatever dreams I might have, or have had in my life are to be dead and buried with Jesus, so that what can arise is nothing short of God’s will in the new life raised with him. Baptism is a picture of that (Romans 6). It’s not like God doesn’t give us dreams, but the point is that they need to come from God. So much of the flesh, not to mention the world and the devil can get in.

I wonder if something like that wasn’t happening even to Jesus’s disciples on that day. Their dreams were dead and gone. They didn’t get what Jesus had told him at least three times: that he would suffer, be crucified, and on the third day rise. That made no sense to them. So they were surely in despair. It is hard to put ourselves in the disciples’ place, even impossible since we can’t escape the knowledge of what followed, and all that has come from that.

We need to be ready to let go of whatever dreams we have for the dream and vision God would give us. We are to offer ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life (Romans 6). For nothing less than God’s good will in Jesus. In and through him: his death, burial, and yes, his resurrection. Amen.

reading and meditation for Holy Saturday

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 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. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:38-42

We can look back on it now and realize that this wasn’t the end, but for Jesus’s disciples, this was either the beginning of the end, or more likely, in the midst of living in a most hard part of an uncompleted story. Of course they would be assailed with doubts and fears. But something new, strange and wonderful was about to happen.

meditation for Holy Saturday, Easter Eve: Jesus’ rest

After someone dies, we often say, “Rest in peace.” Jesus completed all things in accordance with scripture and by his death—awaiting the confirmation of that and result in his resurrection—God’s atoning work was done.

For us who see the entire story, there is kind of a pleasing rest about all of this. Yes, Jesus somehow in spirit (with a provisional body?) saw the repentant thief in Paradise. His atoning sufferings were over. And death would not hold him.

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23:50-56; also Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; John 19:38-42


meditation for Holy Saturday

We read in accord with Isaiah’s prophecy, that the suffering servant had a grave:

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Indeed, part of the gospel includes the truth that Christ was buried.

I wonder how often our dreams, even good ones have been shattered. It is easier for us on this side of Jesus’ resurrection to think that all is well, that it ends well. On that side of the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples did not have that vantage point. They had heard Jesus’ words that after he was killed, on the third day he would rise again. But they couldn’t comprehend that, it did not compute with their experience or understanding.

Death, burial, resurrection. We tend to forget or ignore the burial part. In Romans 6 we are told that we have been buried with him in his death through our baptism, and risen with him into newness of life (or, a new life). The burial part should not be glossed over.

Yes, Jesus was dead. In his humanity, he was deceased, of course only temporary, in his case a short time. But long enough that it was more than a blink. His body had to be taken care of, and we note that that was done well. And the Jewish leaders tried to insure that the story would end there.

It is good to simply reflect on this day, on Holy Saturday. Jesus was dead and buried. He had suffered much and eloquently so to the end. But now there was silence. Nothing.

Suggested readings for todayMatthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42



meditation for Holy Saturday: between death and resurrection

There are parts of life which are like a blink, and yet have their place of importance. Many small things we have to do routinely, every day. As well as small things that have to be done along the way in not so routine matters. And yet whether or not it is done can make all the difference.

Jesus was dead. Period. And he was laid in a tomb just prior to the Sabbath. There was no resuscitation. And with that all hope was gone. The burial is important. In theory Jesus could have died and then been raised from the dead right from the cross and in the new resurrection body, as we see in the accounts of the gospels, walk away from the mess. Of course aside from the problem of dignity at that point, which was just the point in another way during his suffering and crucifixion, some would wonder if he had really died. There of course would be other problems with that scenario as well. Though whatever God would bring about would be done well, to be sure.

Jesus was dead. In the Jewish mindset the body was part of the real person as opposed to the Greek mindset that the spirit is the real person which at death escapes the body. The Jewish hope was not some state of disembodiment after death in heaven. But nothing short of the resurrection itself. Jesus was dead, and that is important both in the Jewish setting of the faith as well as in its outcome and indeed fulfillment in what we call the Christian hope.

Burial. It has a certain sense of finality about it as far as this present life is concerned. What is awaited is the reappearing of the resurrected, glorified Lord when all of those in Jesus who are buried will then appear with him in their new resurrected, glorified bodies. Just as Jesus early on that first day of the week was raised up into the new existence of the new creation as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (“He’s the first crop of the harvest of those who have died.”- CEB)

In this present existence we die, are buried and raised to life with Christ through our baptism into Christ. Yes, buried. That means we live an entirely new existence. And we live it out as those who have died, have been buried, and then raised to this newness of life, or new life. Which means that our existence as those in Christ is completely dependent on God. We can’t manufacture or live this out on our own. We are indeed created anew in Christ Jesus for the good works God has for us to do. We begin to live this resurrection life in Jesus here and now.

And so we thank God for Holy Saturday. A reminder of  the new life in Jesus we have in God. That indeed the old has gone and the new has come in and through Jesus. As we await in him the completion of that new life in the resurrection in which what is true of us now in our inner being, will be true of us completely. We in Jesus live in this hope not only for ourselves, but for the world, for all of creation- together in him.