Sometimes we miss the generosity in the Easter Story. Jesus was a pauper. He died with nothing more than the clothes on his back. Given that he died immediately preceding the Sabbath, there would have been a great rush to prepare his body for burial before the onset of Sabbath.
As a pauper, he would have been cast into a pauper’s grave.
But an unlikely figure intervened: Joseph of Arimathea. He was
- a rich man
- part of the ruling religious elite, the Sanhedrin, who had called for the death of Jesus
- a good and just man who opposed the Sanhedrin’s call for death
- willing to risk his own reputation and standing when he asked Pilate for Jesus’ body so he could bury him in his own tomb
- joined by Nicodemus, who previously had come to Jesus at night asking how to be born again, in preparing the body of Jesus for burial.
- unknowingly fulfilling the prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 53:9, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth”
I love this story. Joseph of Arimathea went against the grain. He gave his family tomb for Jesus. He took care of his body, a gruesome task, for burial.
History tells us little of what became of Joseph of Arimathea. Some have said that he made his way to England and was part of establishing the church there. I’m sure that story can wait until heaven, but I know this much—the Scriptures are careful to record his great act of generosity.
I wonder if we would be like Joseph of Arimathea in our generosity—willing to go against the grain, willing to lose our reputation, willing to give up something valuable to us, willing to take on the tragic to gain the beautiful?
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Published April 14, 2022