Sundays in Mark (73) Courage at Jesus’ burial

Continuing our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark.

Mark is in concise descriptive mode, but as usual there is a lot going on behind the scenes. It’s deeply poignant that there is no (male) close relative or disciple of Jesus around to ask for the body so it can be buried quickly before the Sabbath and according to Jewish custom.

Jesus is alone in death, abandoned to his fate.

Joseph of Arimathea, I think, tends to get overlooked. In contrast to the disciples he acts with real courage. Permission to allow a body of a convicted enemy of Rome to be buried had to be granted by Pilate. Joseph is a senior member of the Sanhedrin which had passed its own judgement on Jesus. He must have been drawn to Jesus’ teaching of the kingdom of God.

If it was one thing to take the risk to follow Jesus when he was alive, it is an extraordinary decision for Joseph to identify himself publicly on the side of a dead man. But an urgent decision had to be made, and it was Joseph who stood up to be counted.

Influential and likely well off, it is Joseph, and presumably his servants,  who tend to Jesus’ body and take it to a nearby stone-cut tomb. It is only in death that Jesus is among the wealthy.

Sometimes in life, there comes a moment when you either stand for what is right and what you believe in or you bottle it and don’t.

Maybe sometimes we act like Joseph and grab that moment in faith. Maybe more often we act like the other disciples and disappear or keep our heads down. Joseph certainly was the exception. But the good news is that with Jesus, there is always restoration and forgiveness for a new day and a new opportunity to stand with him.

The Burial of Jesus

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

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