The Wounded Body
The Wounded Body
Words of Faith 2-20-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man,  who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
 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.
Jesus died on the Preparation Day, which most assume was Friday before the Sabbath. Interestingly, one member of the Sanhedrin was clearly in disagreement when the council had demanded Jesus' death. Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy councilor of honorable estate and a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a good and righteous man.... who was looking for the kingdom of God. He was a secret disciple of Jesus although he kept his discipleship secret for fear of the religious leaders (Matthew 27:57; John 19:38).
Apparently, Joseph was not present at the meeting of the Sanhedrin where Jesus was condemned because Mark 14:64 reports a unanimous verdict in that meeting, which actually should have invalidated the decision. He may have been deliberately excluded because of his known sympathy toward Jesus. News of the condemnation of his Lord awakened the courage and revealed the true faith of Joseph. Out of love for Jesus, he took charge of the body of Jesus and buried Him in his own tomb (Matt. 27:60).
On the evening after the crucifixion, he went "boldly" to Pilate and begged for the body of Jesus. He tenderly took down the body from the cross. With the assistance of Nicodemus, he wound it in fine linen with spices and brought it to the new tomb in the garden near the place of His crucifixion. There they laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9.
Condemned criminals did not typically receive such honorable burials, but exceptions seem to have been made on the intercession of well-to-do family or friends. The discovery of the skeleton of a crucified man buried in another aristocratic Jewish tomb of this period testifies to this fact.
Because bodies decomposed rapidly, mourners were allowed to anoint, wash and wrap the body in its shrouds even on the Sabbath. More elaborate arrangements that these loyal women disciples wish to bestow on Jesus, however, would have to wait until the Sabbath-- sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening-- had passed.
All four Gospel writers present details about Jesus' burial in order to demonstrate that Jesus was truly dead. All the preparations for His burial would have been unnecessary if Jesus had not really died. The death of the Messiah was needed, or there could not have been the Resurrection.
We are blessed as we contemplate these passages to know what is ahead. The greatest joy ever proclaimed is about to occur on the third day. We tend to rush past these moments in scripture for that reason. The Protestant tradition tends to focus on the resurrection while Catholic traditions focus on the death of Jesus. The place of preparation is one of the Stations of the Cross venerated with prayer and reverently enshrined in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There is a significant and powerful testimony in the witness of Joseph and Nicodemus as they tenderly attended to the body of Jesus.
Meditating upon this scene causes one to wonder about the way that we treat the Body of Christ today. The Bible is clear that the church is the Body of Christ with its many parts and various members. Do we approach that Body with anything close to the tenderness and care that Joseph and Nicodemus and the women gave in caring for the body of Jesus?
We would be appalled if we read that these caregivers rendered any disrespect to the body of Jesus. We would be angered if we learned that one part of his body was disregarded or allowed to drag in the dirt. We would be deeply offended if we heard that one of the caregivers spoke disparagingly about the battered hands or the look of the pierced feet. We would wince if we sensed that someone was somehow hurting or batting aside one tiny finger or toe of His precious lifeless body. Yet... wow, how often have we done the very same to His Body, the Church, filled with His life and promise.
How are you treating the Body of Christ today? With tenderness and reverence or with some degree of indifference? Do we look to the church as a market to serve our needs and feed our wants, or do we come to care for the Body, anoint with healing balm and wrap with tender care? Do we disrespect the very wounds that have wrought our salvation when we are casual in attendance, complacent in our manner or lacking in genuine concern for one another?
Father God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. Thank You for the precious gift of His life and the sacrifice made for me. Teach me the way of Joseph and Nicodemus and the women in tenderly caring for Your Body. Teach me healing that comes from Your wounds. In Jesus' name.