The Invitation - Day 41

Luke 23:50

Now, there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and, wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished, the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

This just about wraps up this part of the story. The crucifixion is brutal, it is frightening, and it is tragic and horrifying.

But it is also the beginning of a new kind of hope. It is the interaction of the divine and human. It is death that brings life, and life that replaces death. It is what we had been waiting for, without realizing that we had been waiting for this. It is so different from what we expected that we can hardly believe it today.

We don’t celebrate the Cross, but we do acknowledge the importance of it. We recognize that all we believe stands in the shadow of the Cross, and this standard judges every love we have ever felt or given. Love that is sacrificing, love that is overwhelming, and love that is sanctifying are all wrapped up in this scene.

These last texts deal with the logistics of what they did with the body of Jesus, which sets things up for the next part of the story.

However, I want you to linger on the darkest Sabbath in history for a moment. Let us not move to Sunday so quickly that we forget what it was like for those moments when Jesus was in the grave when the disciples felt as if all was lost, and in the tragedy of what happened.

Sometimes, people tend to diminish this part of the story. They say Jesus knew he was returning, so what was the big deal? I tend to think that Jesus went into the grave, at least at that moment, fully believing that he might not come back to us. It was a sacrifice that he was willing to make for us. And I don’t think we see that kind of love very often.

Last thought for this week: How much love does it take to sacrifice yourself for someone you love? How about someone you don’t yet know? Jesus was willing to be that sacrifice for you and me because that is how much he loves us.

Some people are uncomfortable with this kind of love. That makes sense, as we don’t often have that kind of love. But rather than be uncomfortable with it, let us learn to live in it, as it is the greatest thing God could do for us!

  1. What do you think about the Cross? 
  2. Is it essential to understand this journey of faith you are on? 
  3. How can we help with any more understanding of it? 

By Pastor Timothy Gillespie

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