Meditation, Good Friday

Reading John 19, 38-42

It was Joseph who thought of it first. Met my eyes as the crowd dissipated, spectacle over, body left limp upon the cross.

We couldn’t just leave him there. Couldn’t leave his mother and the other women to try and get his body down. Couldn’t leave his lifeless body up there for the Sabbath.

But we couldn’t leave him either.

Joseph left, he knew of a new tomb, freshly carved out of the rock, tooled and smoothed, a tomb fit for nobility, and it was not far from here. He’d buy it, persuade Pilate to release the body, take it there. Like me, he had influence, unlike the women left there- their words would be as rain off a straw roof.

I sent my servants, a bag of gold to purchase the spices, as much as they could buy. If the others, if the rest of the ruling council would not honour this man of God, then we would. With the most expensive, most fragrant spices, like a King.

As I lifted his bloody life-less corpse from the cross, as the women wept and cleaned his face, as we waited for Joseph’s words I sought some words, some Scripture to comfort his mother, the women there.

And all that would come, repeating in my mind, as the events of the last few days spun in my head, were the words of the Psalms

“In your majesty ride forth victoriously, on behalf of truth, humility and righteousness display awesome deeds. Your throne O God will last forever, a sceptre of justice the sceptre of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness, therefore God has set you above all other, by anointing you with the oil of joy. Your robes shall be fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia, from palaces adorned with ivory and music to make you glad”

Somehow the familiar words brought comfort, we sung them together, gently repeating them time and time again as we lifted him down, as we laid him on clean linen in the dust, as we waited on Joseph.

We laid him in the fresh tomb, the  smooth carved walls in the torchlight like the  ivory of the Psalm,  as we wrapped him and placed the sweet myrrh and aloes all around and within the cloths, more than we needed, much more, but a sweet offering to a king, our king, even if we had betrayed him in his life, we could honour him  now in his death.

We left him then. The Sabbath was nearly upon us. The final preparations could wait, the burial rites continue later. He would want that. To honour God first on the Sabbath.

He always honoured God first.

And as we walked back I knew that not all the myrrh, not all the expensive aloes or spices, not even if I gave all I had to fill that tomb, it would never be enough.

He gave up his life, and somehow, somehow he had given me new life, new belief.

“It is finished”, he said.

But somehow, it felt like it was just beginning.