Holy Saturday: Moving Beyond Comfort Towards Him
Praise Jesus, who is the Light of the world!
Sing: Who is on the Lord’s Side?
Read God’s Word
To get a better glimpse of Joseph of Arimathea, let’s look at the parallel accounts in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Matthew 27: 57-61
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 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. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 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. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
According to Luke, Joseph of Arimathea was a good and upright man who did not consent to Jesus’ crucifixion. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish tribunal who wanted Jesus dead. Matthew’s account specifically mentioned that Joseph used his own tomb to bury Jesus. Matthew records for us that Joseph is a disciple and Mark identifies him as someone who was waiting for the Kingdom of God.
Here was a prominent and rich man willing to risk his status to identify with Jesus. This is in stark contrast to Pilate who caved in to popular opinion. In all three accounts, Joseph went to Pilate for permission to get the body. Mark, in particular, characterized Joseph as asking for Jesus’ body boldly. This heightens the contrast between Joseph and Pilate.
Joseph moved beyond his comfort zone despite societal pressures and welcomed Jesus. Many people wonder whether God is by our side. The Bible assures us that God is a God who draws near. The more appropriate question is whether we are on God’s side. Choose well, friends. Joseph of Arimathea chose to be on God’s side. Pilate chose otherwise. How will you respond to Jesus today? Will you move towards him beyond your comfort zone?
Holy and ever-living God, You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. From everlasting to everlasting, You are God. There is none like You and no one could ever do what You did. Jesus, You willingly endured the suffering, the pain and the agony out of sheer love for each one You created. How blessed we are that You became the sacrifice for our sins to save us from condemnation. How precious indeed is the gift of salvation! You paid the price with Your blood! Thank You that when we trust You, we have hope not only for the present but for all eternity.
Lord Jesus, You call me to follow You as Your disciple. I confess that I don’t always know what that looks like in the different situations of my day. What does it mean to take up the Cross and follow You? How do I know when it is to stand up for You boldly and when it is to wait for the moment to bring out the truth? What does it mean to be like Joseph of Arimathea who lived in the world and not of this world? While Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God, he kept his eye on Jesus. Help me to do likewise and in so doing, transform me from glory to glory in Your Son’s likeness. With my whole heart, I would like to be all that You are asking me to be in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Sing: This I Believe (The Creed) and Christ Be In My Waking.
One is a declaration and the other is a prayer!