Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
John 19:40 (NKJV)
This poignant account from John’s Gospel of Jesus is beautiful in its simplicity.
Johnny Cash famously sang an old spiritual: Were you there when they crucified my Lord? One of the lines is, ‘Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?’ Imagine. Let’s go back to that moment. What if you or I had to take care of the dead body of a loved one? What if it were battered and bloodied? Where would you start?
How did Joseph and Nicodemus feel as they took Jesus’ body down? Did the centurion, who had witnessed the crucifixion, help them? Was the cross lowered first, and then, gently, with tears in their eyes, did they extract the nails from the flesh and pry the crown of thorns from his head? What next? Did they take some clean cloth, to wash away the blood and dirt from his body, and, with tenderness, pat it dry in preparation for the first embalming? Was this followed by wrapping the strips of linen, infused with sweet-smelling, preserving spices, around his lifeless body before laying Jesus respectfully in the tomb?
How did the women react as they watched on? What emotions gripped them as they followed the men carrying him to the tomb, and watched as the stone closed its entrance? The song continues, ‘Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble…tremble.’
In a sense, we were there.
The Jesus story goes from sadness to elation, from sorrow to joy, from weeping to singing, because, you remember what happens…three days later the stone is rolled away! Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away? Johnny Cash goes on to sing. We all – each of us, everyone who has ever lived and who will live in the future – participate in all that Jesus is and in the key events of his ministry.
Jesus’ story becomes our story. Jesus is no longer nailed to that cross or dead in the grave.
‘…just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ (Romans 6:4 NIV).
Thank you, Father, for your son, Jesus, who died for us and was raised from the dead for us that we might live a new life in him. In Jesus’ name. Amen