We join the story right after Jesus breathes His last breath. He has surrendered His spirit to His Father; “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (verse 46). But Jesus’ physical body needs to be tended to because Jesus is not done with it.
Once again, God has prepared in advance for Jesus’ needs. Joseph of Arimathea was part of the council that had condemned Jesus to death. Joseph DID NOT cast his vote for this outcome. He was a true seeker of the Kingdom of God. I believe he saw the truth of Jesus’ teaching. He believed Jesus’ words about the Kingdom, His Kingdom. But Joseph also knew the determination of the Sanhedrin. Once their minds were made up, there was very little that could stop them.
I wonder when Joseph made his preparations. In our story in Matthew I had him and Nicodemus make plans as soon as Jesus was turned over to Pilate. This is possible but I wonder if he could have been urged by God to start his preparations even earlier, like when the council began to make plans to do away with Jesus. John tells us that Joseph purchased the shroud and Nicodemus the spices the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, but what about the tomb where Jesus was to lay?
Jesus’ followers were heartbroken by this turn of events. I can’t imagine that they were in any fit state to care for Jesus’ physical remains. They were in shock! They were also exhausted as they had been awake most of the time Jesus had been. So God stepped in before it all began. God prepared Joseph’s heart in advance. God also made sure Joseph planned “his” resting place well in advance of Jesus’ need.
I imagine the preparation of Jesus’ body brought with it plenty of tears. I’m reminded of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. I wonder how many tears mingled with the spices that night. Did tears wash Jesus’ body for burial? I believe many more tears were flowing outside the tomb as the women watched and later as they prepared their spices for their Lord.
These dark days weighed heavy on all of Jesus’ disciples and followers. But this was NOT the end. For Jesus’ disciples involved in these actual events, it felt hopeless, but we know better.
Father God, THANK YOU that this was not the end. It was the beginning. Thank You for preparing for Jesus’ physical needs in advance. I know I would have been useless at that point in time. You used Joseph to step in when Jesus’ regular disciples were overwhelmed. Thank You too that this was NOT the end.