Saturday, April 15, 2017

Reflections for Easter: Preparation Day

Luke 23:50-57 (NIV) ~

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man,  who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Jesus called out, "Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit." and then breathed his last.  It was over, and I'm sure for his family, friends and disciples the grief overwhelmed them.  They knelt, lay on the ground, tore their clothes and wailed with grief.

As time passed, one by one they got up and left.  However, there was one man who remained, a member of the religious elect, Joseph.  He had believed Jesus' words when his friends had not.  He had followed Jesus and sat under his teaching.  He knew that he had to do something with the body.  He could not bear to see what normally happened to those crucified - decomposition on the cross and the corpse eaten by birds.

He approached Pilate and asked for the body.  After Pilate made sure that Jesus was really dead, he gave permission.  Joseph had to lift the body of his teacher down from the cross, remove the nails and then wrap him in the finest linen he had.  He carried the body to a tomb he had purchased with his own money and gently laid him on the rock. I'm sure his own grief overwhelmed him.

Sabbath was about to begin and the preparation had started.  Ironically, this man who was called the lamb of God was being prepared just as the sacrificial lamb was prepared before death.  I often wonder if Joseph understood the symbolism?  Would he understand the sacrifice that had been made for him?

Even while the rest of the disciple had left the cross to grieve in their own homes, the women stayed and followed.  They wanted to make sure that the preparation of the body was properly done.  They prepared spices and perfumes to place on the body, but observed the Sabbath rest before coming back to do so the next morning.  What a surprise would greet them!

In today's modern world, this day between Good Friday and Easter generally goes unnoticed.  We are usually busy preparing for Easter Sunday.  I know for myself, I will be working at a community Easter egg hunt our church is having this afternoon, as well as prepping food for Sunday.  I don't always stop long enough to reflect on this in between day. 

But I wonder how much we lose the importance of preparing our hearts to receive the message we will hear on Easter Sunday.  We get so caught up in Saturday fun day that we forget to spend time in prayer and reflection so that we can hear from the Lord on Sunday.

Today is preparation day.  Slow down and spend some time in prayer and reflection today. Prepare your hearts for the joyous message that will happen tomorrow!