“On Your Mark”
Dead and Buried (Chapter 15 Verses 42-47)
What would become of his body (v42)? Dragged away by the soldiers and thrown into a pit like the criminals crucified alongside him? His friends, the women folk, John, do not know what to do. God had already taken care of it (Isaiah 53.9). This man Joseph (v43) did not disclose his faith for fear of the Jews (John 19.38), perhaps because of his position on the Sanhedrin council, who knows? But when it really mattered he was where God needed him, and now he comes forward with boldness. It is not always those who profess loudest who turn out to be the most genuine article in matters of faith. Think of Peter, always ready to profess, who always knows the answer (or thinks he does), always first to speak. But where is he now? Now here is this man Joseph, afraid to speak out, a bit reticent about making an open profession. But when the going is really tough, he displays himself to be the most dependable. Often it is the most timid who go the furthest. Do not be fooled by peoples talk, it is what they do in the final analyses that really matters.
Death by crucifixion can take up to four days, criminals so disposed were greatly relieved when they heard they were to be disposed of the same day. Therefore Pilate is very surprised to hear of Jesus death so soon, and because he hears of it from a member of the Sanhedrin he does not trust him, and so has it verified by one of his soldiers (v44), and so grants the request (v45). The burial party (vv46-47), lay his holy body in Joseph’s tomb, but for Jesus the tomb was a temporary residence, only until the third day. And so too for the Christian. We have a better place. For these this a confession of love rather than faith, but their faith will be vivified yet, it will come to fruition. They have not heard the teaching of their Master, they listened, but they did not hear (Mark 10.34b). But for those who have listened they can already hear the joy bells of heaven ringing. Because he who enters the tomb here is the Lord of life, who enters the dwelling place of the dead, but only with reference to his humiliation which has bottomed out (Philippians 2.6-8). From here on it is up all the way (Philippians 2.9-11). Peter, Mary, Joseph all those who have been buried with him are already glorified with him, risen with him, a place in heaven. The right relationship at the right place is what counts. The Person is Jesus, the place Golgotha, near the carefully guarded tomb. There is nothing more important in all the world, in the universe.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)