Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council,
had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the town of Arimathea, and he was
waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. –Luke 23:50-51
Another Lenten season draws to a close. Soon the faithful will watch the spectacle of Jesus’ death. Some learned this story from childhood. Jesus, an innocent man, was arrested, suffered a kangaroo trial, and was put to death. Why death? Why mob justice? I appreciate temperate men and women. While others fury and rush to judgment, they moderate; exhibit self-restraint; try to lead; they clean up messes others make. Joseph of Arimathea, who refrained from the mob and provided a tomb for Jesus’ body, was such a man of self-restraint. Words from an American founding father, John Adams, which I came upon recently, strike me as apropos for thinking about Joseph of Arimathea; for keeping perspective in highly charged times of life. Adams said,
It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “Whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection.”
Among the world’s religions, Jesus is preeminent. This assessment I’ve made from head and heart and after years of reading texts of other faiths. One troubling dimension of Jesus’ story is that innocence was condemned and put to death. What was Joseph of Arimathea thinking and planning as he watched others put innocence to death? After innocence died, Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb. Joseph was followed by women. They anointed the body of Christ. They gave innocence a reverent burial.
All things are possible with God. Innocence was raised from death; was restored. Innocence, which the world often fails to protect, was vindicated by God on Easter morning.
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action to kill innocence. He came from the town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.
If you are waiting for the kingdom of God; or, if you’re not and even doubt such a kingdom exists, you’re invited this month to the join the world-wide Church to watch innocence die and be restored to life. Though the world often fails to protect innocence, God has intervened on innocence’s behalf in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God has intervened to forgive us. Jesus is the meaning of life and I invite you to receive him as the meaning of your own. Joseph of Arimathea points the way every year. Though many are turning away from belief and practices of faith, Joseph is pointing the way. He requested the body of Jesus. The body and blood of Christ have been given for our life and salvation.
To all a blessed Holy Week and Joyous Easter in Christ,
Pastor Doug Heagy