It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. 16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
One positive thing this pandemic has shown, is the many people who have come out of the woodwork to help others. Neighbours helping neighbours, retired doctors and nurses returning to the NHS, over a half-million people volunteering for tasks to support the NHS.
Joseph of Arimathea came out of the woodwork when Jesus died on the cross. He appears in all four gospel accounts. We know he was a rich man who owned his own tomb. He was a prominent member of the Council; a good an upright man and that he had become a disciple of Jesus. However, John tells us that he was a disciple secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders Jn. 19:38. It seems that it took Jesus’s death for Joseph to ‘come out’?
He went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Also, Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
It is both a happy and a sad thing that it takes a crisis to bring out the best in people.
It shouldn’t be the case for Christians. We are called to love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. So, helping others at this time should come naturally to us. Does it?
For Joseph from Arimathea there was no going back. His secret was out! From now on, whatever the consequences, he would have to own Christ and be a public witness to the crucified Jesus.
In this time of pandemic most of us have to stay at home. But is it causing us to fear and to hide or to step out and be bold in our witness to the message of the cross and resurrection; the message of hope we have in Christ? And is it leading us to be fluent in helping others?
Father, as we reflect this Easter time on what Christ Jesus did for us, make us resolute in faith, bold in witness and generous in service. For your name’s sake. AMEN