April 20, 2019
MATTHEW 27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The Guard at the Tomb 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
After such a hellish week, Joseph allowed himself a massage, before going home to Arimathea for the Passover Feast. His youngest had invited a young man for the first time. When did she get old enough for this?” The banter in his head was interrupted by the voice of the older man lying on the next massage table. “Can you believe,” he said with a sharp intake of breath. “Not so hard, Granicus, I’m old. Where was I? That Nazarene Rabbi that Pilate crucified. You should have seen the look on the High Priest’s face when he learned the Governor, put a placard on top with, “King of the Jews” on it. Joseph interrupted, “what about him.” “He’s dead already. I lost the bet. Given his age I would have expected him to last for a couple of days at least.
Joseph sat up, called for his clothing. Dressing quickly, he walked out escorted by his servants. It didn’t take long to arrive at the Praetorium (Pilate’s residence). The place was deserted. By now even the worst procrastinators hurried to finish the last details before dusk. At sundown the Passover would begin.
Sitting on the Council as he did, literally opened doors for him to meet Pilate. He asked for the body of Jesus. “Very well, if you want to tend the Nazarene’s body, welcome to it. I know you Jews want all three buried before sundown. I’m not sure why you are doing this, but thank you, though you are not doing it for me. It make my life a bit simpler. Bad business this.” And so it happened. In a hurry to get things done but with dignity, Joseph of Arimathea placed the ruined body, wrapped in fine linen, into his own, newly completed tomb. He rushed off to arrive home for the Sedar.
Some were surprised at Joseph’s actions. He was a quiet man and while he was convinced that Jesus was Messiah, he had made no public pronouncements. Such was not his way. It was a little odd, when later someone pointed out to Joseph a verse in the fifty-third chapter of the prophet Isaiah.
ISAIAH 53:9 They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Joseph was too modest to consider that his name came in Isaiah’s prophecy. His family, on the other hand, believed it, cherished the story for as long as they had a collective memory and so do we.
In hope, in spite of the facts. John