Matthew’s passion: A Borrowed Grave
40 Blogs of Lent: 38
It is an odd way to celebrate a victory, by being buried. A group of women had been among those who had witnessed God incarnate, God in human form, win the final victory over evil, over sin and even over death. The chains of death are broken. But they had yet to realise it. Instead of celebrating they go to a tomb weeping. Then they sit there, mourning by the grave.
Joseph of Arimathea makes his only entry into the story here. Two things about him are explicit in the text; he was a follower of Jesus and he was rich. Implicit in the text is that Joseph was brave, possibly foolishly brave.
The other Gospel writers add detail about Joseph. Mark tells us that Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin who had tried and convicted Jesus, but had disagreed with the decision.
Brave but foolish, Joseph put his neck on the line is asking for the body of Jesus.
The rest of the Sanhedrin would not have liked it. Joseph’s position there would surely go.
The Romans would not have liked it either. Admitting that you were a follower of someone who had been crucified recently could mean you could be next.
The wise thing to do in the circumstances woul be to do what the rest of the disciples had done, get away and keep your head down. They would not do anything as bold as what Joseph had done until after the HolySpirit had come at Pentecost, seven weeks later. But I am getting ahead of myself in the story here.
Allowing his family vault to be used by Jesus was a big risk. Jesus was laid in Joseph’s place in the grave.
No one realised then that the grave was only on loan?
My grave and your grave
It is important at this point to point out the importance of the grave to the story. It needs to be pointed out that Jesus was in fact that Jesus was dead. Really dead. For God to take the role of the once and for all sacrifice for sin God has to die. This is the great paradox of the Gospel message: God dies. That is why Jesus came, to take the penalty of the sins of the world, just as John the Baptist had prophesied.
The grave was Joseph’s, but it was also mine.
Jesus died not just for the people of his time but for all time. That includes me, my many sins have been paid for and cancelled. I go to the grave not only walking with Jesus in life, but go to the grave knowing that Jesus is already there. Death has no horrors left.
This can be for you too. The death of Jesus is affective for all people for all time so you are included too. Jesus has won the victory over your evil, your sin and even your death. You can go to your grave with the certain hope that Jesus is already. The chains of death are broken.
But that is not all, there is something better to come, the story of the Passion of the Christ has not ended yet, death is not the story’s conclusion. The story is just beginning.
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
Matthew 27 ESVUK
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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