Sunset today is 7:07 pm. That is the minute the joy of Easter begins. Sometime during the night upcoming almost 2000 years ago the body that Joseph buried, adorned with myrrh and aloes arose for all humanity.
But this is the day before that.
The Saturday before Easter is a day of rest from the guilt and work of Lent and a day of rest before we ring the bells for the most joyous revelry of our faith. The body that endured the pain and torment of Good Friday now rests before its first breath of Easter morning.
Knowing what we celebrate tomorrow, silently transport yourself back to the borrowed tomb in that garden. Enter it on this Saturday and sit in its quiet cool seeing Jesus’ body. Think on the sacred rite Joseph performed to prepare it for burial. Know what engineering it would take to carefully lower it with care and dignity from a cross. Know what mental anguish Joseph would feel closely seeing the wounds our Gospel told of yesterday – wounds that most humans (though not all) rarely endure or see. Know how motionless and limp it would be.
Also know that Joseph hid his faith in Jesus for fear he would be discovered as a disciple. For political or business reasons or fear for his life? We don’t have to hide our Christianity, but many of our world do. The risk Joseph took to ask for Jesus’ body, wrap it and bury it was enormous. Perhaps he would not be discovered in his loving task on Passover. Would the celebration distract from Joseph’s and Nicodemus’s heart-rending work on the hill outside of town? Or were his love and grief so great that he no longer cared?
Nicodemus brought 75 lbs of perfumed ointment. That’s almost half the weight of an adult male in just perfume. They wrapped the body in long sheets of linen and adorned it with that perfume.
Are you a secret disciple of Jesus as Joseph was? Am I? Do we do works of love when no one is looking? Do we even do works of love? Do we bring 75 lbs of perfumed ointment for the tormented body of Christ? Do we even bring one? Would we take down Jesus’ body? Would we go to the hill outside of town to take down anyone else’s body in Jesus’ name? Or do we go to our version of Passover and hope someone else will do it?