Holy Saturday: Holy Week

Today’s daily reading for Holy Week: Matthew 27:55-66

Pastor Helen’s reflection on today’s Scripture:

In this time of waiting between the death and resurrection, there’s a character who is too often overlooked.  Yes, Joseph of Arimathea was the one who offered up his family’s tomb for Jesus, but he’s also much more.

Think about it: he was granted an audience with Pilate after normal business hours.  Does Pilate strike you as the kind of guy who would lovingly accept walk-ins at any hour? Not so much.  Yet, here the two were, talking burial logistics long after it would have been considered appropriate to do so in the day.  No. Pilate wouldn’t meet just anyone.  He also wouldn’t grant requests of just anyone, especially in cases of treason (which would have been the case of Jesus claiming to be who he was). Moreover, the use of linen and the family tomb indicate an honorable burial of prestige, which was also not commonplace for crucified criminals.

Across the board, Joseph was defying norms…and getting away with it! Joseph must have been a man of great affluence and influence. The latter means he would have also had a lot to lose by advocating on behalf of such a notorious “deceiver.”  Could you imagine? This wasn’t some guy.  This was a guy with enough means for a proper burial and influential enough to make it happen all outside of Pilate’s work day.  A man like that has a lot to lose, and yet he proceeded anyway.

Did he wonder if Pilate would refuse his request? If he would be admonished in some way for making it? Would there be other repercussions for being associated with Jesus? I don’t know if he worried about these things or not; but I do know it doesn’t seem as though he cared. Joseph put it all on the line for the one who put His life on it.

For those of us who know Jesus, we are usually content enough to share what He has done in our lives with others…so long as we know it will be accepted.  We will pray at meals when we are with others who also pray at meals. We let Jesus into our conversations when we are with others who are like ourselves…but what about when we aren’t sure how someone will receive that we are “associated” with Jesus and believers?  Do we boldly go forth and maintain our truth? Or do we not say anything at all for not wanting to offend anyone?

Let’s not underemphasize that Jesus died. He did so even so those who admonished Him could come to believe if they chose to respond to His great love. He didn’t just die for people who were already Team Jesus, and he certainly didn’t teach in such a way as to keep the peace at all times.  As such, Jesus, and, in turn, Joseph, become unflinching models of remaining in Truth even when it becomes inconvenient or unpopular.  How can we be more like them today? Tomorrow? On a regular day during a regular week?

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