After this, Joseph of Arimathea, 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. … Nicodemus came as well … 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. The most remarkable life ever lived is finished. Over. Done. Time to go home and forget it ever happened.
Caiaphas returns home to celebrate Passover. Pilate stretches out on his couch and drinks more than usual, knowing he has executed an innocent man. But it wasn’t the first time. It needed to done, he tells himself.
Joseph of Arimathea and friends go to prepare the tomb, brush away the dust and lay out the spices and linens.
Fumbling with the dead weight of Jesus’ body, they wrap him in strips of cloth—his feet and legs, hands and side, chest and shoulders, until, finally, his face … the face they loved even if they seldom understood him.
They carry out their heartbreaking work and lay their hopes to rest, burying the yearning they felt whenever they heard his voice.
All is quiet now. The crowds have dispersed. Public order is restored. The ancient lust for the blood has been satisfied.
Now is the hour of regret and sorrow, of whispers in the silence and echoes of what might have been. That’s all we have.
But that is not all God has. God has more. God is always more, more love, more life. Jesus trusted that more all the way to the cross.
And so we wait, trusting the One who is all life and all love because 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.
Pr. David L. Miller