Wednesday after Judica
Scripture: St. Mark 15:20-47 (NKJV)
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. 24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. 26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. 28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” 29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.
“And he laid Him in a tomb.”
It was courageous for Joseph of Arimathea to obtain the body of the crucified Christ and to bury Him. This was an open testimony to the enemies of Jesus regarding his status as a disciple of Christ, marking himself as an easy target for persecution at the hands of the same people who delivered Jesus to death.
Even more, though, this act was a courageous witness before Heaven and Earth of his enduring faith in God. Joseph exemplifies all Christians of the Old Testament, who were waiting for God’s long-promised Messiah to come into the world. In all that Jesus said and did Joseph heard and saw the fulfillment of God’s promises concerning the Christ. The signs that accompanied His final hours of suffering, and the moment of His death upon the cross urged him to confess, like the Roman centurion, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
Perhaps Joseph did not understand fully at the time that it was a divine necessity for the Son of God to suffer and die for the sins of the world. But he did understand that suffering and death is part of the Christian life. Even in the midst of his sorrow, he continued to believe in God and faithfully carried out God’s commandments. He buried the dead body of Jesus like he would bury any other Christian, in the sure hope that God would raise Him up one day. He did not need to wait long to see that hope realized—and to realize that Christ’s resurrection is what gives the same hope to all who continue courageously to believe!
We pray: We beseech Thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon Thy people, that by Thy great goodness we may be governed and preserved evermore both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.