The burial of Jesus was a quiet act of service that required both humility and courage.
Luke 23:50 – 56
The burial of Jesus
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 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. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 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. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Jesus had died. The soldier had thrust a spear in his side, blood and water had come from his body as confirmation for all time that he was dead. Now this section deals with Jesus’ final humiliation. His body must be buried because all would expect that now it would decay. The circumstances fulfil the words of Isaiah 53:9, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” He was on the cross with the wicked and in a tomb among the (formerly) rich. This was all a prelude to his glorious resurrection, because death would be defeated by him and he would not undergo decay. He had made a complete identification with us. He died because we are under the curse of death for our sin. He was returned to the ground from which humanity was created in the beginning. Praise the Lord that Jesus victorious resurrection is also our victory!
It is very interesting that the ones who are involved in this process of burial are not the prominent disciples like Peter or John; they are in hiding. Instead we read of people on the periphery who step forward at this important moment to show their love for Jesus and their concern to honour him in death. Joseph of Arimathea was a believer. He is described as a good and righteous man. He is also said to be waiting for the Kingdom of God. Prior to the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that is a description of one who believed the promises of God concerning Jesus. Like Abraham, he believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He showed that status in the way he lived, as a good and righteous man. He also showed his loyalty to Jesus by dissenting from the condemnation of him at the trial before the Sanhedrin. Joseph, a believer like us, took the body from the cross and placed it in a tomb.
The others involved, albeit at a distance, were women who came with Jesus from Galilee. They were clearly totally devoted to Jesus. They went to prepare spices and ointments for Jesus’ body.
There are several lessons for us from these events, even beyond the obvious reminder that Jesus’ resurrection was a miraculous return to life of one who was truly dead. Firstly, we see some very unspectacular, ordinary people serving the Lord because they loved him. The actions they took, although very important, could be done without great skill or knowledge. They served because they wanted to, as all of us can. Secondly, they were serving in ways that were unlikely to bring applause or even acknowledgement. We all have those opportunities all the time! Thirdly, they were bold when others had run. There was no way of knowing what sort of reaction would come from these acts of respect for Jesus. They acted despite such concerns, just as we can show quiet courage and faithful service to our Lord in difficult situations.
Head, Heart and Hands: Learn to love Jesus and show it with humble service.
Prayer: Father, help me to love you more and please teach me to perform humble service to others as an expression of my love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Spirit of Jesus
Living Church – Creek Road