Friday, June 13, 2014

John 19:38-42

John 19:38-42
And after these things, Joseph from Arimathea – while being a disciple of Jesus and having been kept secret because of fear of the Jews – asked Pilate in order that he should carry away the body of Jesus.  And Pilate allowed it.  Therefore he came and carried away His body.  And Nicodemus – the one who came to Him at first by night – also came while carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloe – about seventy-five pounds.  Therefore they took the body of Jesus and tied Him up in linen cloths with the fragrant spices just as it is the custom for the Jews to prepare for burial.  And a garden was in the place where He was being crucified; and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one was yet having been placed.  Therefore, because it was the day of preparation for the Jews and because the tomb was nearby, they buried Jesus there.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

I love this section of scripture.  We hear about Joseph of Arimathea, whose discipleship was kept secret because of fear of the Jews.  We hear about Nicodemus, whose discipleship was also kept secret because of fear of the Jews.  And we get a bold proclamation of the power of the cross.  You would expect that the crucifixion of Jesus would drive Nicodemus and Joseph o0f Arimathea further into seclusion, wouldn’t you?  After all, if the people of whom you are afraid kill the guy you’re secretly following, chances are you aren’t going to become public about your discipleship under Him.  But look at what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea actually do here.  They do the opposite of what we expect.  They are the ones who remove the body.  They are the ones who expose their discipleship.  Even Jesus’ Twelve didn’t do that much!  The power of the cross of Christ is that for those people who truly get it, they become willing to give up their life and their social status for the glory of God.  That’s the power of the cross.

How willing are you to give up your life to embrace the cross and devotion to God?  How willing are you to suffer social humiliation or rejection for the sake of the Father?

Second Thought:

Furthermore, there is a ritualistic connotation to this passage.  Remember that in John’s Gospel Jesus dies on the day of preparation for the Passover.  Therefore, in John’s Gospel the Passover begins at sundown on the day Jesus died.  So when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus go to the cross and touch the dead body, they make themselves ritually unclean.  That means they cannot participate in the Passover celebration that is just about to begin!  They cannot go with their families and friends and participate in the greatest day of the Jewish year.  This would be like someone in America voluntarily spending Christmas in isolation while the rest of their family was just inside the house opening gifts and eating the meal and having good fellowship.  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea voluntarily give up access to Passover in order to care for the body of the dead Jesus – a relationship they had been trying to hide.  Again, that’s the power of the cross.

When it comes to ritual or spirituality, which do you prefer?  Is it better to be obedient to God or to be obedient to tradition?  What of your tradition would you be willing to sacrifice if it meant drawing closer to God?

Third Thought:

At this point, let’s talk about the story from the divine perspective.  In this passage, we have two really cool perfect passive participles: “having been kept secret” (κεκρυμμένος) in John 19:38 and having been placed (τεθειμένος) in John 19:41.  In Greek, perfect passive verbs and participles are usually attributed to the work of God because the action is done by someone in the past but the effects continue into the present and the future.  In the Greco-Roman mindset, the only beings capable of acting upon someone else in the past, present, and future is a divine being!  Therefore, what we can tell here in this passage is that while Joseph and Nicodemus may have been fearful of the Jews, it was actually God who kept them secret.  God kept Joseph of Arimathea (and by association, Nicodemus) secret so that they could do this very task.  Furthermore, the second perfect passive tells us that God Himself gets the credit for placing Jesus’ body in the tomb – although certainly Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did the heavy physical lifting.  Putting this all together, what we get in this passage is a clear sense of God’s hand.  The crucifixion is not an act where the Father turns away and is unable to look upon the Son.  Rather, this is an act where God has intimately planned His characters to do a specific and loving task that He has called them to do.  This is a tremendous act of a loving God caring for His only Son whom the world killed.  God does not abandon those whom He loves – even should the whole sin of the world be amassed upon us.

What does it say to you to hear this story told from the perspective of God?  How does it help you to understand the depth of God’s love to see how everything that happened – even down to those who buried His Son – was a part of God’s orchestrated plan?

Passage for Tomorrow: John 20:1-10
Post a Comment