by Dcn. Skip Hill
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
What is so ‘good’ about Good Friday? At the time it seemed to be the darkest day in history to those who had been with Jesus to the end. It was a day of death; a day of sorrow. But, without it, we would not know the joy of Easter morning.
Why do you think that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus? Perhaps because both he and Nicodemus did not come to realize who Jesus was until they saw how He suffered and died. Both had been ‘secret ‘disciples, Joseph a wealthy man and Nicodemus a Pharisees, who up to this point had lived a ‘quiet faith.’ The death of Jesus brought about the realization that they both had to come out of their ‘spiritual hiding.’ Honoring Jesus by taking His body down from the cross and providing a place of burial was the least they could do. Who else was going to do this? The followers of Jesus had run for their lives after His arrest. Those who were so close to Him did not stay around when they were concerned for their own lives. Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the other women, could not have managed to take his body and bury it, even though they remained by His side to the end. No….those would had been afraid to make known their faith found the courage to declare it in the end. I am sure that Joseph and Nicodemus were cut to the core with their own grief and guilt….ashamed at how they had not stood up for Jesus until now! But, it was ‘the least they could do!’
Perhaps they did not believe that He would conquer the grave! Perhaps they could only see the horribleness of His death, and their own betrayal. However, their act of courage must have been a catalyst that was needed to reignite the courage of the disciples! Though they had all run for their lives in the garden, and though Peter denied Him three times on that fateful night…..after he was placed in the tomb, they were found to have gathered together again in one place….His disciples would have had no one else to help them in their grief than each other.
They may have ‘denied’ him by their actions that night, but, the actions of Joseph and Nicodemus must have had quite an impact upon them. Now, in the darkness that was that ‘Good’ Friday, we find, though the evil, good began to win! Those who had denied Him in life now claimed Him in death! Those who had run in fear were strengthened to come together for support by the bravery of these two Pharisees. And…as we look back via the lens of history, we look back in hope and faith. Up until this day, Death had always been the ‘final answer’. However, on this Good Friday, the events that would come in three days would prove that Death was no longer the ‘final answer’, and the hope of life through Death’s defeat would introduce the world to a new reality.
Dcn. Skip ministers at St. Luke’s Anglican Church