Day 7: Jesus’ Body is Taken Down From the Cross

by Apr 16, 2022Devotional, Easter 2022, Journey of the Cross

Mark 15:42-47 (ESV)

And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.  And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Isnatched up my phone the instant I heard my husband’s text tone, eager for an update. Amid a months-long, chaotic and painful transition at work, involving the department he led being merged with another, today he would finally learn if he had been chosen to lead the new, combined department.

Staring at my phone in disbelief, I felt like I’d like been punched in the gut as the answer we weren’t expecting tried to penetrate my brain. Wait, what? My husband had spent years growing and building this department, pouring into his team and their mission. And now he had to give it all up and look for a position elsewhere.

As Joseph of Arimathea carefully took Jesus’ broken body down from the cross and reverently wrapped it in the linen shroud, I can imagine his stunned disbelief. He had invested time following Jesus, seeking answers, hoping that He truly was the Messiah, the Savior of Israel. And now it was over.

I imagine Joseph had been waiting all afternoon, holding his breath, for Jesus to throw off death as easily as He’d done it for Lazarus, to surprise the mocking crowd by coming down from the cross, fully alive and victorious. As the finality of His last breath sunk in, he must have been so devastated, so confused. Wait, what? 

In our Easter celebrations, we typically go straight from the cross to the grave and the triumph of Resurrection. After all, the good news of Easter is that He is alive! Death is defeated! We don’t remain in the pain of that Sabbath day, that numb shock of a world turned upside down in the worst way possible. Who wants to linger in the agony of Saturday’s shattered dreams, when we know that Sunday is coming?

Jesus’ followers only had to spend a short while in their sorrow and despair. But when our world is rocked to the core by the unexpected, we don’t often get resolution on the third day. Even when we are convinced that God is good and that His purposes will prevail, the uncertainty, the loss, the devastation we feel can stretch the threads of our hope to its outer-most limits.

How do we keep moving forward when the pain of our disappointment seems too much to bear? Like Joseph, we take courage. We do the next thing. We hope. We cry. We pray. We wait. Until tomorrow.

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