“Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” v. 43
“Thank you, your Excellency….yes I have a burial place for the body.” Joseph, still numb from the day’s events, made his way quietly to the place of the skull. The sun was beginning to set and the Sabbath would soon begin, so he had to move quickly. He also wanted to avoid being seen by any lingering council members, who may slow him down with questions.
With the help of two soldiers, one curiously dressed in a blood stained robe, the lifeless body of Yeshua was pried from the death scaffold and wrapped in a linen cloth. Then the somber journey began toward the final resting place. The tomb was cut out from a single rock ensuring the body would be completely encased, with only one entrance. After the body was made secure, the soldiers exited and made preparation to seal the entrance.
“Sirs, may I have a moment?…thank you.”
Joseph placed a trembling hand on Yeshua’s corpse. The chill of a dead body is always a bit unnerving, but it was nice to finally have a few moments alone. There’s an eerie silence that comes in the presence of death. Its finality is difficult to absorb. Joseph had spent the last thirty some hours on a roller coaster of emotion. From the moment he was awakened for Yeshua’s trial, to the long night of trying to pray, without really knowing what to pray, then moving along the angry streets of Jerusalem, wishing he could do something, to the crushing agony of Yeshua’s crucifixion, Joseph had not had a moment alone and quiet. The silence of that tomb filled his ears and poured into his soul. A whisper of a tear escaped the corner of his eye and filled one of the lines of his cheekbone then mingled with the salt and pepper beard that adorned his regal countenance.
Misty grey eyes surveyed the linen cocoon as Joseph replayed scenes from the past week. He had been standing there in the crowd when Yeshua cleared the temple. He had been standing outside of the Leper’s house and marveled at Yeshua’s response to the woman with the jar of perfume. He briefly chuckled within himself when he remembered the way Yeshua handled some of his fellow council members when they tried to trap him with inane religious questions.
“I was so sure you would be the one. I prayed all my life for messiah to come. When I saw you ride into town on that colt, I prayed you would be the one. You didn’t know it, but I was watching you. I have never seen a man so full of the blessed one. I was so sure it was you who would save Israel from herself. But here we are. Perhaps messiah is just a vain hope, a fantasy of our own creation. If one such as you cannot save us, then all hope is lost.”
Joseph turned to leave, feeling an angry lump erupting into his throat, he spun back to Yeshua once more.
“I believed in you! Why did you do this to me!” spitting out curses, he raged on. “You’re a fraud! How dare you come sweeping into Jerusalem parading yourself as a messiah only to end up dead! I have spent my entire life looking for you! Or for what I thought was you! I searched the prophecies, and you seemed to fulfill every single one! What kind of scheme was this! What could possess a man to put on such an act, and then continue the game even when you knew death would be the result! Did you want to be some kind of martyr or something? What could be the point? You clearly had no ambitions for the throne. You made no effort to protect yourself or create alliances with the council. You knew this would happen didn’t you! You planned to die. Didn’t you! Why did you do this to us? To me?”
The two soldiers, hearing the commotion, came into the tomb and escorted the broken, sobbing, disillusioned old man out of the tomb. Joseph sat completely lost in a daze while the soldiers sealed the tomb, the thud of the massive stone signaling the end of a long nightmare.
One of the soldiers approached Joseph. The councilman was a bit confused as the guard pulled off an old bloody robe and handed it to him. “This belonged to Yeshua. I don’t know why but something tells me he’d want you to have it.” Joseph hesitated, and then slowly reached out gratefully to receive it. The soldier walked a few feet away, then stopped and turned to the grieving old man.
“You know, that guy was one in a million.” Joseph worked a smile, “Yes he was.”
The soldier went on, “I don’t know much about your god, or any god, but if there is only one god I’ll bet he’s a lot like Yeshua. At least I hope so. Just what little I saw of him was enough to change my whole way of thinking. Ya know?”
Joseph, a little embarrassed at himself looked at the blood stained robe for a moment, then up to the sky and said, “Yeah, I know what you mean. If there is a God, I’ll bet he’s a lot like Yeshua too.”
The old man made his way home. On the way he ran into Simeon, a fellow council member.
“Joseph, you’d better get home, the sun is almost down…hey why are you wearing that bloody robe?…”