Who Was Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate; Was Crucified, Died and Was Buried
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
And so we affirm the death and burial of the Son of God. The man born to poverty whose last possession was stolen from him and gambled away is laid in a rich man’s tomb. This man of wealth makes an appearance before the governor of the land in order to spend his relational capital on behalf of a dead Messiah. Joseph of Arimathea, this disciple in hiding, makes his public profession of faith in a most undignified, public fashion. He provides the tomb, lays the body inside, and seals it with a stone. And if that weren’t enough, Pilate has it sealed and posts guards.
Ponder the set of this scene. The plot has arrived at the ultimate impasse of impossibility. In your mind’s eye, visualize the tomb, the stone, the seal, the guards, the weapons, and the setting sun ushering in the rest of Sabbath. Fix this scene in your memory.
The Messiah is the ultimate interpreter of God to the world and the world to God, of God to ourselves and ourselves to God, indeed of ourselves to ourselves, assuring us that while we may have meant it for evil, God meant it for good. It is in him that we are rooted and grounded, that we find our ultimate terroir, the soil that nourishes us and makes us what we are. And, particularly, it is in him that the dark theme of suffering comes to full expression.
—From “Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God”
N. T. Wright
Express your questions, doubts, curiosities, and conundrums.
Write any fresh affirmation stirring in your heart and mind from today.
Now affirm the Apostles’ Creed aloud:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord . . .
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