Lent Devotion: March 31st
38After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Something had changed. Things would never be the same.
Joseph and Nicodemus had been ashamed to follow Jesus before. Everything had to be done in secret, under the cover of night, without anyone knowing. How could they tell their peers, their followers, or their students that they were followers of Jesus? So much was at stake! They had money. They had status. They had power. How could they make it known publicly that they were followers of a wild-eyed peasant preaching insurrection? They would be thrown out of the synagogue. The years they worked to build up their images, to become leaders, and to be self-sufficient would all crumble.
But that was the past. Yesterday he died, and so they must die too. They must die to all those dreams of power. They had to bury those visions of the good life with honor and prestige. They had to die to those fears and anxieties. They lingered with this dead body and entered into the impurity of death.
Something had changed, and as they buried Jesus they buried their old selves too. No more sneaking around at night or secretly confessing faith, not after the crucifixion of the Messiah. Now they had to live like men committed publicly to this Jesus.
Should we not join them this Saturday? Can we, with Joseph and Nicodemus, boldly go down into that tomb and repent of our false visions of honor? Can we give up our secret, nighttime schemes to maintain our distance from the crucified one? Can we die to ourselves on this Saturday, in the hope of being born again?
Prayer: God, we confess that we often seek to evade our commitment to you for fear of what others think or of what it might cost us. Embolden us through your Holy Spirit to die to our sins and publicly take up our identity as disciples of the crucified one. Amen.
Andrew and Amy Fields serve with the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (FUSBC) in Medellin, Colombia. Through their ministry of teaching and library development, they seek to equip the next generation of Christian leaders in Colombia and Latin America.