For audio version: https://youtu.be/80yet6tHjhY
Prepare to Listen. Let these words from Lamentations (3:24) prepare you to listen: ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
Prayerfully Read John 19:38-42
38After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
The story of Jesus’ burial isn’t one I’ve meditated on. Who wants to meditate on death? Certainly not me. Then I randomly chose these verses long before Lent began and was forced to meditate on death. All four Gospels record Jesus’ burial and the only commonality between them is Joseph of Arimathea. The differences in John are deliberate, shaping the story so that readers reflect, not on history but on theology. The abrupt ending to John’s account of Jesus' death, “they laid Jesus there,” suggests that death is the topic for theological meditation. There’s no mention of the stone sealing the body in the tomb , or soldiers guarding it. It gives the impression that the tomb remained ‘open,’ and we’re supposed to enter and meditate on a subject we usually avoid, sentimentalize, or even deny--death.
And I don’t just mean Jesus’ death. We’re invited to meditate on our own death. Jesus’ death overcame death, but he didn’t die instead of us. We’ll die one day. Meditating on death, our own death, isn’t a task in morbidity. We don’t do it to feel sorry for ourselves and beg God to keep us living. Tish Warren maintains that “reminding ourselves, day by day, that we will die teaches us to live” and she adds, “Meditating on our mortality teaches us to live in light of the larger story of which we are a part, to locate our small joys or tragedies in the scope of eternity” . We learn to live well and in confident hope of the resurrection when we learn to live with the acceptance of our own mortality.
Jesus was “laid there.” We can enter and meditate on death—his and our own.
We learn to live by accepting our death. Remind yourself today of your mortality and inevitable death so that you live more fully.
Respond to Jesus
Recognizing that I will die one day, Lord, let me live, I mean really live until I die, fully, abundantly in the life your death made possible. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Live. LIVE.
 While the stone isn’t mentioned here, it is mentioned in the opening verse of the resurrection account (20:1). I’ve chosen to view its omission in the burial story as a hint to reflect theologically and spiritually.
 Warren, Tish Harrison. Praying in the Dark. 2021, p. 121.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.