Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today’s text

John 19:38-42

After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus -- though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews -- asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well -- the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time -- and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


Well, that is that, Close the book. Shut the door. The most remarkable like ever lived is finished. Over. Done. Time to go home and forget it ever happened.

Caiaphas returns to his home to celebrate Passover. Pilate stretches out on his couch for a full meal and drinks more than usual to wash away the awareness that he helped kill an innocent man. But he knows: it wasn’t the first time. And it needed to done, he tells himself.

Joseph of Arimathea and his friends go to the tomb to make it ready … and to lay down their hopes. They clear the cave, brush away the dust and lay out the spices and linens in which to wrap their friend, Jesus.

They fumble with the dead weight of Jesus’ body, turn it, hold it up, wrapping strips of fabric around him. Slowly, his wounds disappear, first his feet and legs, his hands and side, chest and shoulders. Finally his face … the face they had learned to love, even if they seldom understood him.

They carry out their heartbreaking work, laying to rest their fondest hopes, burying, too, the yearning they felt whenever they heard his voice, saw his face or touched his hand.

All is quiet. The crowds have dispersed. The threat to the public order is quelled. The ancient lust for the blood of one’s enemy has been satisfied.

Now is the hour of regret and sorrow, of whispers in the silence, of echoes of what might have been.

That is all we have in the hour of death, as hopes are dashed and memories lie crumpled in a heap. That is all we have.

But it is not all God has.

God has more … and Jesus knows it every step of the way to the cross.

He knows it when he refuses to run from those who come to take his life. He knows it when he insists he must drink the cup God has given him to drink. He knows it when gives his mother to his friend to care for each other. He knows it when he cries in the torment of thirst and pain on the cross. He knows it when he calls out, “It is finished,” and breathes out his Spirit.

And he knows it when he when he stands silent before Pilate, giving him no answer.

“Where are you from?” the Roman governor asks him.

And that is the question. Where is Jesus from? Not here.

Jesus is from the heart of God. He dwelt continually in God’s holy immensity and mercy.

He belongs to the One who is Life. And he knows death is no hindrance, no limitation to the heart of God. The God who made the complexity of human life and joy out of the dust of stars finds no challenge in giving life to the dead.

Jesus knows … because he is from the heart of the Love death does not destroy. He knows with God there is always more, more love, more life.

So Jesus stands silent before his murderers. His silence is not mere resignation. For he knows, it’s only Friday. Sunday’s coming.

The gloom of despair will be lit with the light of everlasting morning. The garden of sorrow will bloom with the fragrance of eternity. Sunday is coming, and God has more.

Pr. David L. Miller

1 comment:

Pamela Czarnota said...

So often we fast forward toward some sanctuaries the fragrant bloom of lilies and hydrangeas can be detected, for the Easter Flowers have already been delivered to the Fellowship Hall or the Sachristy. We rarely are sustained in the still, stark, darkness of our Good Friday Worship. I pray for a Holy Saturday Experience which is not a dress rehearsal for Easter Glory. No...Let this Holy Saturday be! Perhaps I can somehow reach over time and space to the place the world was when humans thought that the beautiful message given in Jesus was "finished". Perhaps I can linger there...and then wonder about how I would be if He hadn't vanquished the power of death. May I then be freshly astounded when I hear the church cry out in amazement, and joy... "He Lives!"

Blessings to all who linger in the Easter Mystery!