Saturday, December 8, 2012

When Joseph Wrapped Jesus

It was work for a coroner--and parts of that intrigue me.  The human body is amazing.  But a dead body.  A dead, beaten body?  Who are these people who wash, manipulate and care for the dead?
Joseph of Arimathea was one.  Nicodemus was another.  And their service to the dead, unrecognizable body of Christ touches me in a way I'm not sure I can communicate.

As I read the account of Joseph asking Pilate for Jesus' body (Matthew 27:50-61), I was initially impressed with his means, influence and confidence. God knew hundreds, thousands, even eons, of years in advance about Joseph. He told humankind a few hundred years beforehand (Isaiah 53:9), which I find incredible. In my journal I wrote: Joseph was exactly who God intended Him to be.  He was in the right place at just the right time and he did not miss His calling because God's hand was in it all!  Application:  I will not miss God’s call on my life.  He will provide the means and timing necessary to do exactly what He has for me to do. 

The next day I wondered what it looked like; what was the physical condition of Jesus' body after being scourged, spat upon, struck, beaten and crucified? What would it have taken to lift, transport, even wash it?  According to Jewish tradition, the body would initially be held vertical by one person while another poured water over the head and worked from the top down, cleansing and washing.  This body, unlike most, would have been difficult to piece together and cover.  It would have required great care and tedious wrapping.  As an expression of devotion and generosity, Nicodemus brought seventy five pounds of spices to apply to Jesus' body (John 19:39).

It was a messy job. Dirty. Uncomfortable. Wet. Cold. Uncertain.  Frightening. Was it something they'd done before?  Doubtful.  Certainly no one other than Mary had cared so intimately for the Son of God.  It is not something we dwell on for obvious reasons, but it is there.

And I can't help but wonder if, through His Spirit and by His Word, God has equipped His people to minister to His Body when it is beaten and afflicted and sore and wounded and weeping?  To the persecuted church, the deserted mother, the fallen pastor, the imprisoned brother, the neglected child, the hungry beggar, the discouraged teacher....  May God enable and empower us to be in the right place at just the right time.  And may we be willing to roll up our sleeves and get dirty as we love and minister to the wounded Body of Christ.  It's all about Jesus.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

"Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:34-46).

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you! Please share your experiences, thoughts, questions or comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.