In our final station of the cross, we arrive at the tomb.
Our reading today is from John 19:38-42
John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Jesus has declared, “It is finished” and we see the providence of God, even in His death. When Rome classified someone as a criminal, that person was often buried in a forgotten tomb in a potter’s field, but God produces a man, Joseph of Arimathea, who obviously had both riches and influence to receive the body of Jesus.
Nicodemus also shows us. We see the impact of Jesus on Nicodemus as Nicodemus does something brave: He stands against the other religious leaders and chooses to honor Jesus. His stand is not highlighted here, but imagine the opposition. Those who had Jesus killed watched as one of their own sought to honor Him.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea both step forward at their own peril to honor Jesus. The beautiful picture here is an example to all of us: That in a culture that is increasingly becoming less ‘Christian,’ these men choose their faith over their status. If our world continues on the path it is going, representing your faith in public may cost you more than ever, but like these men, we will have to choose.
Because of God using these two men, Jesus is given a proper burial with the spices and a proper tomb. Their actions are tied to Scripture:
Isaiah 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
As these two men step forward, God uses them to fulfill His purposes as their actions make this prophecy come true. The Gospel writers recording this event go out of their way to show that as prophecy is fulfilled, that it is the outward sign that God never loses control of the death and burial of Jesus.
The writings confirm across multiple witnesses that Jesus was crucified, that He died and we now have the confidence in their testimony that He was placed in the tomb. By their testimony, the disciples give an account of everything that happened to Jesus. I want to leave you with this:
We can trust the providence of God. It’s not that life is always easy or pleasant, but we understand that God’s will is accomplished in the earth and no matter what happens to us, we are in His hands. Whether death or life, hardship or ease, sick or well… the greatest place to both live and die is in the center of His will. God uses two men to bury His Son. Jesus accomplishes the will of God in His death and the invitation is that God would use us.