We rejoin our story of Jesus at the foot of the cross, but this time someone else is there. John and Jesus’ mother have left. There is nothing else they can do. Their sorrow is overwhelming. Until the moment Jesus breathed His last they had a glimmer of hope that He would still set things right. Now He is truly gone and they feel His loss profoundly!
Out of hiding though come two followers of Jesus to care for what is left of their Messiah. Their sorrow is as real and deep as John and Mary’s but they have the ability to do something that the others don’t.
Joseph of Arimathea is official in the Sanhedrin and has enough clout to stand before Pilate. He asks for Jesus’ body. In Mark 15:44 we hear that Pilate wondered at the quickness of Jesus’ death. He was reassured by the Centurion that Jesus was indeed dead and so granted Joseph’s request. Joseph went in plain sight of anyone watching to the cross to retrieve Jesus’ earthly remains.
Nicodemus is the second follower to come out of hiding. He brings spices to anoint Jesus’ body with for burial. He brought 75 POUNDS of spices.
Together these two men “took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (verse 40). They performed the burial rights that none of Jesus’ regular disciples were able or prepared to do.
We suffered a death in our family this week and this story brings back a conversation I had with my granddaughter at the time. She is, unfortunately, familiar with death as her maternal grandfather passed away when she was a year and a half old. We talk frequently of where grandpa is and about our physical and spiritual bodies. Our death was our small dog. He had been sick for a long time and, for me, his passing was a relief. Not because of the tasks I had to do for him on a daily basis but because I knew he was finally free of pain.
Anyway, back to my point. We, Cailyn and I, had the task of taking what remained of our little dog to the vet to be cremated. She never knew what happened to her grandpa but she was front and center for Grizzly’s care. As I said earlier, we have talked about death and the physical and spiritual bodies. To her, I refer to our physical body as an “eggshell” that once it is broken releases the spirit body, or egg. She was now faced with Grizzly’s eggshell. I told her that how we care for someone or something’s eggshell after they are finished with it is how we show them our love. (I know I took a long time getting to this point, but it’s my blog.)
Nicodemus and Joseph loved Jesus, even if they were too afraid to show it in public. Both of these men were part of the Jewish religious leaders. Neither of them consented to the verdict passed against Jesus. I wonder if they were even invited to join the vote that day. It couldn’t have been a unanimous vote if they were there. We know Joseph didn’t consent but did Nicodemus? Were they allowed to abstain?
Sorry, I digress again. Joseph and Nicodemus’ devotion to Jesus was well hidden until that night. They failed to show Him publicly how they felt while He was still alive. The only thing they had left was to show Him their love by caring for His “eggshell.” They were not afraid of being seen now. They lavished it with all the care they could in the time they had. They insured He had a proper burial, by Jewish customs. Joseph even gave up his own tomb to Jesus.
In Mark and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ burial they tell of the women who purchased spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. We know these were the same women who looked on as Jesus was placed in the tomb. Did they not witness Joseph and Nicodemus using the spices on Jesus? Did they think the men’s preparation were not sufficient? Did they not know that Joseph and Nicodemus were followers of Jesus too? Did they simply want to show their own love and care to Jesus by ministering to His remains? ALL of them loved Jesus deeply and showed their love in what, they believed, was their final gift to Jesus.
Father God, thank You for the love that was poured out on Jesus that day. Thank You for Joseph and Nicodemus final bravery. Sometimes it takes something drastic to push us into action. I’m glad it really wasn’t too late for them. We often wait until it’s too late to show someone how much we love them. In any other instance that would have been Nicodemus and Joseph’s fate, but NOT with Jesus! THANK GOD THIS IS NOT THE END!
Father God, thank You too for how You have given me the words to help Cailyn. Thank You for her loving and open heart. Help me continue to feed her Your word even though we won’t be spending as much time together now that she is in school. I treasure the years we have had to build our special relationship. Thank You that she feels free to ask me ANY question and that she knows I will answer her. Thank You for those answers!