Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009 - 100 Pounds of Herbs and Spices – John 19:38-42

When asked to write devotion for the Lenten booklet, I had a choice of passages. I chose this one thinking I would write about the spices used, and maybe relate it to cooking, or how we “spice” up our lives by having a variety of interests. Not so much. Once I read through the passage in a few different versions and “goggled” the verse, it became quite clear this passage is not about the actual spices. In this passage, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple of Jesus, asks Pilate for permission to take Jesus body down from the cross. Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 100 pounds, joined him. They wrapped Jesus body with the spices and strips of linen. He was placed in an unused tomb in a garden. This, the new tomb and the large amount of spices, was how royalty was treated at death and yet Jesus was not seen by most as royalty.

Upon further study of this, we learn that the two men who bury Jesus had not publicly associated with him before. Joseph of Arimathea was indeed a disciple, but he was so secretly because he feared the Jews (v. 38). And Nicodemus, though not actually called a "disciple," nevertheless had visited Jesus at night (v. 39) and had affirmed at that time that Jesus was a teacher come from God. Thus, these are two of the people referred to earlier, who were secret believers, "for they loved praise from men more than praise from God" (12:42-43). Now, at Jesus' death, they are no longer under this condemnation; they have passed from hiding in the darkness to coming into the light.

It is ironic that these two men come out of hiding and clearly associate themselves with Jesus at his death, since they would have thought his movement had come to an end. In the worldly sense, they had nothing to gain and everything to lose.

So where are we in our faith? In the darkness of our selfishness and sin, or in the light ready to be the witnesses of Christ’s saving grace given to us by his death on the cross? Are we seeking praise from man more than praise from God? It’s easy to worship in the comfort and safety of our own church, but to publicly display our love for Jesus means truly “walking the walk.” Let us learn from Joseph and Nicodemus, who displayed their love for Jesus knowing that they had everything to lose and nothing to gain in this world, yet as followers of Christ, gained everything in eternal salvation.

-Denise Conrad

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

No comments: