Joseph of the Tomb

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Luke 23:50-53

50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51 had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid.

*****

He asked for the kingdom of God.

He received instead a lifeless, bloodied, soiled body;  

but a body, nonetheless, so, good man that he was,

he took that body and wrapped it in fresh linen;

sprinkled spices of disappointment across the

shroud, then laid the bitter remains of his dreams on a

shelf in the dank darkness of his new rock tomb. 

He had been tempted, yes he had, tempted to

simply walk away and leave that corpse on the cross

for others to dispose of, but, surely, he reasoned,

surely this man, disappointing as he turned out to be,

surely he deserved—simply as a human being—a final,

quiet dignity.  One more caress for the shrouded

remnants of his dream; one more sigh, and then he left to

close the tomb and seal away forever all his kingdom hopes.

 

But then…that curious rumor in the air that sent him back to

tidy up his now strange-emptied tomb; and there the lingering

scent of myrrh and aloes, mixed with something

new and strange, ethereal, it seemed, almost like

angel breath; and, too, that mystifying luster

glimmering ever just beyond his sight; those

linen wrappings, stained and stretched across the shelf…

 

Could it possibly be?  Could his cave have been the

womb in which the costly kingdom pearl had been

laid to rest and then had birthed new life beyond this life?  

And were his muted actions somehow part of all of that—

his futile disagreement with the Council? his binding of that

mangled body in his linen winding sheet?  He hoped, but

sureness hovered just beyond mind’s reach; so quietly he

folded all his questions into the empty creases of the

shroud, and quietly he left his silent tomb.

 

Yet heart emboldened by that hushed and holy emptiness,

mysterious Presence filling gaps and pauses nestled in the

restless aching of his soul, he asked for rising faith to

live—wrapped once again—

in kingdom hope,

in kingdom love,

in kingdom joy and peace.

4 thoughts on “Joseph of the Tomb

  1. Good Morning – and Thank you friend…..still amazed by our conversation on Saturday…..still very present with me. Hope all is well – sun is out here but still chilly!!!!! Some of us are just waiting for warm weather – maybe that is like waiting for the Kingdom of God:) Expectant hope…..:)

    • I, too, have marvelled at the “coming together of souls” last Saturday. Quite amazingly beautiful. Touched, perhaps, by that kingdom peace and joy, even as we wait for ever more of kingdom reality in our lives!

  2. Thank you, Carol, for another thoughtful and beautiful reflection. You capture both the grief and the slowly realized and transforming hope of the resurrection

    • There is so much of both grief and hope in Joseph’s story. As I read it recently, I was deeply touched by the beauty of this little-known saint. Trust your Easter was truly blessed. I pray for you each Saturday as I think about your preaching the next day.

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