Wednesday 1 October, 2014

Matthew 27:57-66

57 As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea. His name was Joseph. He had become a follower of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb. 62 The next day was the day after Preparation Day. The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember something that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order to make the tomb secure until the third day. If you don’t, his disciples might come and steal the body. Then they will tell the people that Jesus has been raised from the dead. This last lie will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take some guards with you,” Pilate answered. “Go. Make the tomb as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure. They put a seal on the stone and placed some guards on duty.

I am struck by verse 64. The chief priests and the Pharisees thought that Jesus and his followers were part of one great big deception, even after all that Jesus had taught, all the miracles that he had done, all the good that he had done in his life. They were convinced that what Jesus stood for, and all that he was, was a deception. I have no doubt they were probably quite sincere in their thinking too!

This passage strikes me on two levels. On the first level, I am reminded to be very careful that I don’t fall into the sincerely wrong trap. How I do this comes down to walking very closely to Jesus – being a man consistent in the basics (word, prayer, church, connect group). On the second, it causes me to realise that there will be people that I try and help see Jesus who will be sincerely convinced that I am deceiving them. Even Jesus experienced this in his life, and even after his death! What do I do with this reality? Don’t let it put me off doing what I’m here on the planet to do. Even though Jesus couldn’t convince these guys, didn’t stop Him living the life God called Him to live. I must take heed and do likewise.

Lord, help me keep walking closely to you, so I don’t fall into the trap of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. And help me to keep focused on doing what you’ve put me on the planet for, no matter whether certain people I try and win become convinced that you are the way, truth and life or they become convinced that I am deceiving them. Nothing stopped you Jesus, may nothing stop me. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

2 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    It is verse 60 that jumps out at me on this reading. I have never reflected before on the fact that Joseph had carved a tomb out of solid rock in preparation for his death. Jesus took his place in that tomb in a physical sense, but the metaphor here is really speaking to me- What areas in my life have I been laboring away at, just to prepare to hold something that will die? I am thinking of battles hard won on secondary issues where I really should have put my relationship with a person ahead of the issue at hand, or political causes that I have invested time into that don’t have an eternal consequence.

    I need to let Christ fill these spaces so that he can leave them empty with resurrection.

  2. Richard says:

    Joseph of Arimathea was clearly a man of influence. We meet him here for the first and only time in the Gospel accounts. He could get the ear of Pilate, the Roman ruler of Palestine, so clearly he was well connected. The mere fact of his description being that he was a rich man also speaks to us of who he was.
    Here is a man of influence prepared to give his tomb to a convicted criminal. It would have been some tomb as well, not just another tomb as it is described as new and Joseph’s tomb.
    This is quite an eye-opening story. Joseph clearly believed in Jesus to have done such a thing, to be identified with a criminal guilty and punished by crucifixion is a bold statement. To then give him the use of his own tomb also shows powerful intent.
    How bold, how intentional is my followership of Christ. Am I prepared to risk reputation, give substantially of my money and use my connections to further the cause of Christ. It is all too easy to say ‘yes’. Without truly making provision for this.
    Father, in the quiet moments of my day arrest me, speaking deeply to my soul of the depth and passion of my followership of Your Son

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