John 19:40 - So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
In the whole terrible story of the Passion, this is one of the bits I like best—where Joseph and Nicodemus come to take Jesus' body off the cross and bury Him. I think it's because Jesus is allowing those who love Him to care for Him. Humanly speaking, He can do nothing for Himself at this point—not even protect His own body from being dumped like trash into a mass grave somewhere. But Jesus' people can do something—and they do.
Joseph is a rich man from Arimathea, a member of the same council that condemned Jesus to death, but one who did not agree with their action. Mark says Joseph was "looking for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43). Matthew says straight out that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. And now that everything seems to have ended in disaster, Joseph plucks up his courage and goes to ask Pilate for the right to bury his Master. He doesn't seem to care what may happen when the other council members find out what he's done.
Nicodemus also comes to help—another respected leader, a Pharisee, ruler and teacher among the Jews. He brings a gift of spices, about seventy-five pounds' worth, to put around Jesus' body. It's probably safe to say that neither of these men had ever been involved in funeral work before. They were men, after all, not the women who usually handled body preparation. They were also religious leaders on the eve of the Passover Sabbath, and ought not to have been touching a dead body at such a time. They didn't care.
They loved Jesus—and Jesus our Savior allowed them to show that love in one of the most intimate, humble ways. Joseph and Nicodemus stood in for all of us who love Jesus and who are thankful for the overwhelming love He showed us through His suffering and death. We are privileged to have been allowed to love God Himself. Just for a short time—a very short time—because very soon now, Jesus will rise from the dead, and share His own everlasting life and love with all of us who belong to Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for giving us, Your people, the chance to love You. Amen.
Have you ever arranged or attended a funeral? How did you show love to the person who died and his or her family through your actions?
How do you show love to another person—maybe someone you live with, a friend, or a coworker—through your actions?
How is letting people love you in itself a way of loving them?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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