The exact location of ‘the Jewish town of Arimathea,’ is unknown, other than being in the province of Judea and thus near Jerusalem. ‘The day of Preparation’ refers to Friday when Jews would prepare for their Sabbath rest day.
Prepare to listen. Sit still and silent and reflect: ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ (Lamentations 3:24)
Read Luke 23:50-56
50Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.’
Women played a prominent role at Jesus’ death. They stood near the cross, watching and waiting (23:49), they became the first witnesses of the resurrection (as we’ll read on Easter Sunday), and they were with Joseph of Arimathea when he laid the body in the tomb. There was no time to embalm the body because the sabbath was about to begin so the woman made note of where the tomb’s location. Their plan was to return after the sabbath with the spices and anointments and embalm Jesus’ body. These women were devoted to Jesus, loved him sincerely, and yet they left his body unprepared for burial in order to rest on the sabbath ‘according to the commandment.’ In their grief, they paused to practice the familiar rituals of sabbath. Perhaps the familiarity of sabbath was needed to calm their spirits, help them deal with their grief at Jesus’ death. By keeping the regular rituals, doing something normal and certain, they found strength to cope. One thing is obvious, neither Joseph nor the women had any expectation of the resurrection of Jesus. On the sabbath, they rested, but planned to return to the tomb and embalm a dead body.
What intrigued you in this story? What regular rituals do you practice that help you cope when life throws its curve balls?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Like those women, Lord, help me practice rituals that will keep me grounded when life goes awry. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world, for which Jesus died.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.