“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 his permission; so he came and removed the body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about one 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.” (vv. 38-42)

John 19:38-42 Saturday 15 April 2017

Psalm: Psalm 4


Today's passage speaks of two men at the periphery of Jesus'story picking up the pieces after his death. His disciples wereeither too afraid, too overwhelmed, or too scattered to organiseanything to do with the practicalities of Jesus' death: this wasleft to others. Kind hands, but the hands of relativestrangers.

Today Jesus is dead for the Church. It is a day of quiet andcold, a day when lights are gone out and no one is left to relightthem.

And yet, there is a miracle hidden in plain sight at the heartof this story: all the people on all sides - disciples and priestsand God-fearers alike - paused and kept the Sabbath. All hope isgone, the disciples' vision for the future dashed and their friendand leader killed, his body uncared for. And yet, they kept theSabbath.

Even on this darkest day and at their worst extremity, thesepeople paused to honour the Creator. They kept the seventh day ofrest. None of the Gospel narratives make a special point of thisSabbath keeping; it is so much a part of life as to beunremarkable.

In the darkest hour of life, an awareness of the cycles ofhistory and of creation itself can bring perspective. If words andreassurances fail, the awareness of the natural world and reachesof space can bring comfort. Even when our lives are over and all wedream of is finished, the world and our God will still be.

To Ponder

  • To what extent do you keep a Sabbath day of rest?
  • What brings you peace, when words fail and everything seemsgrim?
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