Read: Luke 23:50-56
It’s important to appreciate the significance of this short passage: Jesus’ body was dead and buried. Anything short of death would fuel the conspiracy theorists who suggest that Jesus wasn’t actually dead, that somehow He survived the torture and cross. This is nonsense, of course. The Roman soldiers were good at completing their mission of executing people. There is no doubt that they succeeded in their mission.
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph didn’t agree with the council’s decision, but there was little he could do.
a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action… Luke 23:50-51
Once the execution was complete, he approached Pilate and was allowed to take Jesus’ body. The fact that he has access to Pilate gives me the impression that he was someone of notoriety, at least recognized and respected by the Roman authorities.
The earthly family of Jesus had no special place to bury Him. He would have been buried in a paupers tomb if Joseph did nothing. I imagine this was outrageous to Joseph, to the extent that he was motivated to provide an extravagant burial place. In many ways, this enunciates his disagreement with the Sanhedrin, though he must not have been completely convinced about Jesus’ talk of resurrection. At the very least, he could provide a respectable resting place for this amazing man.
Luke is constantly reminding us that women are actively involved in ministry.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. Luke 23:55-56
These women followed Jesus throughout His ministry and while they were certainly treated as second-class citizens, they followed Jewish laws in strict obedience. For some reason, the actions of Martin Luther King and the demand for nonviolent protests come to mind. We can protest while remaining obedient and showing respect for authority that is in place if we act wisely.
The women wait for the time to reappear and apply the burial spices. Little do they know what awaits them.
The actions of Joseph and these women remind me that we are called to action, to do that which is right, even when it doesn’t make sense, when we are confused, and even when we are emotionally wrecked. Lord, help us to learn from these examples!