Musing upon Death.
I cannot imagine watching them take His body off of the cross, insensitive to death, calloused hands pulling out the iron nails bloodied by His hands and feet. These were the soldiers who cast lots for His clothes and stabbed Him in the side with a spear. Did they dump his body on the ground? Shrugging when Joseph and Nicodemus came to retrieve what was left of Him, maybe they reasoned it saved them the extra effort of throwing His body in the group grave with the other convicts.
Gathering oil and nard for the burial rituals, purchasing the white linen cloths, what must it have been like to consider anointing the King of Heaven, the Son of Man, and reconnecting His broken body with oils, spices and perfumes, fingers following the marks of the lash, the thorn marks of the false crown, and the bruises made by human hands?
To handle the Messiah’s brokenness, His flesh, His blood, in His inanimateness, wrapping it tenderly in a clean linen cloth and placing it on the cart.
Bringing His body there to that hole in the rock, they place the broken shell that housed His Spirit on the pristine burial flat hewn for a rich man. As the sun set on that dark day, with no time to anoint or prepare, in a rush, women watch where He is placed as the stone is rolled in front of the tomb. Was there desperation to DO something for Him, for the body, the last rites? Hemmed in by Law and tradition, they left the garden, surely unsatisfied, unsettled, overwhelmed with grief.
Waiting all night, all day. At times sobbing. Petitioning God. Asking “Why, Lord?” and “How, God?” Comforting one another in turn, patting hands, stroking heads, yet also terrified of what the future would bring.
The sun barely up the following day and the women are out the door carrying the spices to perform the dirty work of ministry, the thankless, anguishing work. But they are there to serve Him one last time.
Earthquake, moving stone, flashes of lightening, angels speaking things they cannot believe or understand. Afraid, yet filled with joy. She tells the men, They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him. Suddenly He appears in flesh and calls her by name.
To put myself in their time and place, to meditate on His gruesome death and observe the people who served, in spite of it all, through what to them must have seemed an impossible teaching. To walk straight through the details of the miracle that God did that dusty morning in Jerusalem and miss it, to go through the valley of the shadow of death into death itself and not see that Jesus brings life and calls us each by name when we are overcome is a tragedy. It is by peering into the abyss and seeing the great light that we find hope, we find faith and we find God.
(The featured image is considered the tomb where Jesus was buried in Jerusalem, according to tradition.)