1 Corinthians 15:1-4a
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through
which also you are being Saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless vain. For I handed on to you as vain. For I handed on to you as turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried.
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
When it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was amazed that he was already dead. He summoned the centurion and asked him if Jesus had already died. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
Please take time to reflect on the image below.
Meditations from the preachers.
From our Rector, Revd Andrew Manning
“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean lined shroud and laid it in a new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb.”
Joseph takes a risk out of love and devotion to Jesus. He declares himself a disciple of Jesus by going to Pilate and by offering his own tomb. We pray for true discipleship and of surrender to Jesus of all that is sinful in our lives.
On Palm Sunday I reminded us of the stones that lay silent on the side of the road, and how God could use them to Hail Jesus as King. When the Jewish elders told Jesus to tell his followers to be quiet, Jesus replied that if the people were quiet then the very stones would cry out. As Jesus is brought to the grave the stones do just that.
Joseph now brings Jesus body and lays it in the stone tomb and there it holds Jesus body ready to have the stone rolled away and the King revealed to the world. When the world was silent and everyone had abandoned Jesus the Stone rolled away and proclaimed Jesus as the Risen Lord.
It is interesting that the two women on the way to the tomb commented – “Who will roll the stone away,” yet they continued walking, they did not turn back they did not know how it would work out but that did not make the turn back, they went trusting that God would find a way.
Joseph did not seal the tomb to conceal Jesus, but to respect him, to provide a home for him, even in death.
Can you see that you are a tomb too? As you invite the Jesus of History into your life and celebrate Him as the Son of God that came in human form and did what God commanded, you create a place for Jesus in the stone of your own heart and you seal it with your religion and your dogma and your ideas of what God requires. Nice and neat you build a place for Jesus of the Cross.
But your story doesn’t end there, as you open yourself up to God he will roll away your stone, turn your heart of stone into a heart of flesh and the loving resurrected King of Kings and Lord of Lords will be revealed in your life.
This Easter – may the Joseph of Arimathea in you, be dutiful towards our God, but may the Holy Spirit be at work in you to turn your heart of stone into a heart of flesh, to reveal the risen Christ in you and to turn your sorrow into joy.
Let us pray
God our Father
we have been baptized into the death of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ:
grant that by continually putting to death our sinful nature we may be buried with him
and through the grave and gate of death may pass to joyful resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
St. Paul tells us that we are buried with Christ in Baptism. In some churches, the baptismal font is in the shape of the cross or even a coffin. Entering into life with Christ requires that we die: die to sin and selfishness, die to desires that are not based in love, die to unhealthy attachments to wealth, pleasure, power and honor. Becoming a Christian means leaving some things behind so that we can embrace the new life of self-emptying love. The past year has offered many of us an opportunity to examine what is essential and life-giving and what are being called to die to as we renew our baptismal promises at Easter.
What needs to stay in the tomb as you emerge from this Lent?
What old ways of living need to remain in quarantine as we move out into a new world?
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.