Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - Holy Saturday - 30 March 2013
That evening a man named Joseph came. He was a rich man from Arimathea who had become a disciple of Jesus. He came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission to take it. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.
The next day, which was the day after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will arise.’ Therefore, order the grave to be sealed until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people, ‘He’s been raised from the dead.’ This last deception will be worse than the first.”
Pilate replied, “You have soldiers for guard duty. Go and make it as secure as you know how.” Then they went and secured the tomb by sealing the stone and posting the guard.
After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all. Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.
There isn’t a Gospel reading for the Daily Prayer today, so these passages come from the Holy Saturday service. Either passage could be read. I posted them both because they tell different parts of the story (I could have added Mark’s and Luke’s accounts, too, but, this was enough).
From these accounts we see that at least four people took Jesus down from the cross and placed him in a tomb - Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary of Magdala, and Mary, the mother of Joses. In John’s telling of the story, Nicodemus is the one who brought the burial spices. The Synoptics tells us the women brought the burial spices the following day.
Also, Matthew is the only one who mentions the story about the conversation between the Chief Priest, the Pharisees, and Pilate; along with the posting of the guard. Which I find odd. John’s the one who always gets the bad wrap with his comments and (supposed) snide remarks about the Jewish Leadership.
One thing is certain, though - they all tell the same story. They’re all saying that Jesus actually died. That his body was removed from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a new, unused grave. Then the entrance was shut. Matthew tells us that the entrance was also sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. Their point is quite clear -
Jesus was really dead and buried, and no one was getting to the body.
All of their hopes and dreams dashed to bits. The revolution was squashed before it even began. That’s what the Romans did to revolutionaries - they were all crucified. They were used as examples to anyone else who got the notion to overthrow Rome. Their dreams of Jesus being the Messiah were obviously a mistake. While only a handful took care of his body, the rest were hiding away afraid they would be next. They really didn’t know what was going to happen.
So, they, like us, just sat there waiting...
In the Love of the three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC