Lenten Devotional: April 18th

  • April 18, 2014

John 19:38-42

“They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths” (v. 40).

That hour just after the death of a loved one is a holy hour.

It is so different from the desperate final hours of life. The frantic response to the fatal illness, the desperate medical attempts to fix it, the urgent calls and texts, the squabbling with relatives and doctors, the hell of seeing the loved one’s final labor.

Then, when it’s over—when the loved one is released from her struggle, there is that holy quiet. Just memories and gratitude, a washing over of gratitude at having loved and been loved by this person. Forgiveness—no squabbles now. Courage—nothing can hurt me now. Peace. Love overflowing.

I like to imagine that it was in this state that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus looked upon Jesus’ finally-still body. They had stood the entire vigil. They had agonized with Jesus through the whole unjust thing. Then, in the holy quiet surrounding his death, both these secret disciples found the courage to step out of the shadows, determined to love and honor the man, at least in death. Joseph “outted” himself by asking Pilate’s permission for the body. Nicodemus joined him, providing a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes. Maybe they had servants assisting, but the story says these presumably wealthy and powerful men personally wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices, according to the burial customs of the Jews, and laid him in a brand new tomb, like royalty.

That blessed state of humility, bravery, clarity, honor and love—they had it in that holy hour. God bless us with the grace to live in that state every hour.

Here might I stay and sing—no story so divine! Never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine. This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend; I all my days could gladly spend. Amen.