And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
Joseph of Arimathaea came to do what he could. He went boldly to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus and then tenderly took care of it. Imagine the act of taking down Jesus’ bloodied, broken body. Imagine Joseph carefully removing the crown of thorns and pulling out the spikes from Jesus’ hands and feet. Imagine the up-close view he got of this mangled body as he wrapped it in the linen cloths and carried it to the tomb. Here was his Lord beaten beyond recognition, his raw wounds screaming crimson.
Who was this man who would become so intimately acquainted with our wounded Savior? He was a secret disciple, a rich man, a prominent Jew. He is called honorable and good and just, perhaps to distinguish Him from the other prominent Jews who had just caused Jesus to be put to death. But now at this moment, he was willing to step forward. He was willing to undertake this unenviable task.
Judas had betrayed Jesus. Peter had denied Him. The other disciples had fled. The women looked on, helpless to do anything. But Joseph wouldn’t let Jesus suffer the indignity of being left on the cross like a common criminal. He would give Him a proper burial and a new tomb. He would absorb the cost and perform the task. Here it seems he no longer feared what the other Jews thought of him or what Pilate could do to him. He was simply willing to be used by God, displaying courage and at great personal sacrifice.
Men can kill a body, but they have no power over a soul. But someone needed to tend to Jesus’ body, because He would reside in it again. He was soon to rise from the dead, still bearing those marks of the crucifixion but whole and perfect in all His glory. Leaving behind an empty tomb was a more powerful sign than an empty cross. There were many of those. But this would be the only grave that couldn’t hold the one buried there. Jesus is gloriously alive. God’s plan all came together perfectly, even this detail of preserving the body that would rise again. May we, like Joseph, be willing to get up close and personal with the death of Christ, boldly serve how we can and when we can, and then enjoy the experience of walking with our risen Lord.