Matthew 27:57-66

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

 

Luke 23:50-56

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 himself 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.

  

This can’t be happening.

 

This can’t be happening.

 

This can’t be happening.

 

Where is God? Where is He now?

 

Maybe we hoped too hard. When we saw the lame walk, the dead rise, we looked at the Rabbi and thought Elijah had come again, or the one Elijah spoke of. Did we hope him into being? He let us believe he was the Messiah. Was he a deceiver, or mad? Or did he believe it too?

 

Did he believe it when they flogged him?

 

When they drove the nails into his hands?

 

I’m all dried up. Can’t think, can’t weep. We didn’t sleep so much as fall into a nightmare stupor. When the sun rose it was like a mockery, shining on our puffy eyes and streaked faces. Let humans do what they want, toil and scurry and mutilate one another, but the sun will rise and set.

 

Does God even care?

 

Today is the Sabbath. Yesterday there was work to be done. Two men from the city went and got his body. Mary, Salome, and the other Mary went out to buy spices but they had to put them aside when the sun went down. I laughed bitterly. Do we still do this? Interrupt our work to remember a God who has forgotten us?

 

For our Sabbath rest, we sit in a house with the windows shuttered and the door barred and we stare at our hands. Some of the disciples say it’s only a matter of time before they come for us, too, but the others say they won’t bother. Why should they, so long as we keep quiet and don’t mention his name? They got what they wanted. There’s nothing left to fight for if Rabbi is gone.

 

Tomorrow the women will go to the tomb to wrap the body. It must be cold in there. I fight the urge to run down and build a fire for him. It won’t do any good, of course, but I wish he wasn’t in the cold darkness all alone. He doesn’t feel anything anymore but I can’t stop loving him just because he’s dead, even if he really was a liar or a madman.

 

His body died first. Our memories of him, of his face, his voice, and all that he said and did, will die next. Lastly, all of us who knew him will die. Who, then, will ever speak again of Jesus of Nazareth?

 
Saturday