Our scripture for today is John 19:38-42.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Jesus is laid to rest not by His disciples or family but by two men we know little about before this. Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of the burial (Matt. 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50 and today’s reading). Nicodemus appears only in the Gospel of John, but is mentioned in chapter 3 as the Pharisee who came to Jesus by night and was taught about being born again. We meet him again in John 7:50 where as a member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council) he reminds fellow members they must hear Jesus before they judge Him.
They take Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial according to Jewish customs, and place it in the garden tomb. This is where we find ourselves on Holy Saturday, watching and waiting. The disciples were hiding in fear after Jesus’ death, which is why a wealthy man and a Pharisee, both secret disciples, take responsibility to care for His body.
Today we are also “in hiding” to curtail the spread of the virus that is rampant around us. Like the disciples that day, we can’t all gather together as we’d like. However, we know the love of Jesus, demonstrated by His willingness to go to the cross for us. Let us continue to watch and wait, out of love for Him and each other.
Loving Lord, we are amazed at what You have done for us, deeming us worthy of Your sacrifice. May we wait patiently for the joy that will come, when we can tell the world of Your power and glory, and Your love poured out for us. Amen.