Doing One Last Thing
John 19:38-42 (The Message)
After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.
Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus' body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.
Doing One Last Thing
I was with my mother when she died. I held her hand as the life support was turned off and she gently left this life. The sorrow I experienced was mediated by the certain knowledge that Christ had taken her to himself. As we finished the final paperwork I completed the decisions with some relief because it gave me something to do, something to focus on so that I could keep putting one proverbial foot in front of the other. It also gave me comfort to actually be able to DO these last things for my mom.
I cannot even imagine the anguish felt by Nicodemus and Joseph that day as Jesus’ body was retrieved and prepared for burial but I do understand needing SOMETHING to do and the sense of relief that comes with being able to do one last thing for a loved one. Joseph and Nicodemus felt the urgent need to get Jesus’ body in the tomb before sundown as was the custom; time was short and since the following day was the Sabbath day and allowed for no work to be done, they needed to do at least basic body preparation and burial immediately, knowing that later more extensive care would be done by others. Now, they would do what they could for him, just as we did what we could for my mother. While our tasks may be vastly different from those of the first century, our need to DO something is the same. The true difference between then and now is that we act KNOWING that those we love have won the victory rather than feeling as Nicodemus and Joseph must have, that all had been lost. How wrong they were! Soon Christ would conquer the grave! By his death, our forgiveness, his resurrection, our life, eternally!
God of Life, we give you thanks that when we mourn, we find hope in our sorrow and when we die we pass from life TO life! As Christ won the victory over the grave, so too, in Jesus you give us the promise of everlasting life and joy and peace when we put our whole faith and trust in him. We worship and praise you for the greatest gift in history: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior, forever, who loved and continues to love us as no other. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Kathleen S. Lossau is pastor at Springfield Northside UMC.