Saturday 3 April 2021

Tears at the tomb


After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time – and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.

From john 19


In the days before his own death, Jesus stood before the tomb of his friend, Lazarus whose sisters were beyond themselves with grief, and who had wished that Jesus had been there during his illness – surely then he would have been saved. Jesus weeps.

Perhaps now, as the rolled stone seals the tomb of Jesus, they recalled his grief and tears, and now beyond themselves with grief, they weep too. They had discovered him to be their teacher, their Master, and Lord, and on the night of his arrest, as they sat at table for Passover, he called them closer, called them friends.

They are not waiting for anything to happen, they let grief take its course. They have made no sense of the prophecy of Jesus. For them, there is no joy to come. And so they return to that upper room, lock themselves in, hide away from the world. Their only comfort is a shared sorrow. But the power of God’s love cannot be confined or locked away. ‘Unless a what grain dies and falls to the earth,’ said Jesus, ‘it cannot bear fruit.’ As Jesus’ body lies in the earth, so God is doing something new.


God our Father, I believe that Christ your Son died and rose again. Help me to be alert to your signs of new life in the world and in my own life, that having died with Christ we may also share his risen life. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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