Meditation on the cross 6: Forlorn
‘At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.’ – John 19:41-20:1
Joseph voluntarily asked for Jesus’ body. It wasn’t forced upon him; he didn’t draw the short straw. He experienced this burden due to his own volition and choice. Was it that he wanted to honour Jesus, even in his death? To follow him, even to the point of his finality? I believe that this is such an important and profound point to dwell on. When we sign up to a life of following Jesus, we have to accept that we will experience the glory of the resurrection as well as the burden of the crucifixion. But for all of us there are Saturdays when all we have is the weight and the burden of taking the body of Christ onto our own frames.
Like Joseph of Arimathea, we carry the dead weight of Christ. In his case, it was literal, but, in our case, we carry the weight within our very beings. We perhaps bear the silence of God at times of stress in our lives and relationships. We long to hear God’s voice and see his light, but his absence feels like a lifeless weight bearing down on our souls in the shadows. Joseph of Arimathea carried the corpse of Christ, and bore the accompanying silence, even though he did not know that Resurrection Sunday was around the corner.
We carry Christ in our hearts, and sometimes the weight of this burden is so substantial that we are left forlorn, downcast, and hopeless. This is the “in-between” Saturday part of our faith. We must acknowledge that faith isn’t just Good Friday and Easter Sunday, faith is the silence of Saturday too. In his book A Glorious Dark, Dr. A. Swoboda wrote, “So much is sitting in that tomb with the soon-to-be resurrected Lord. It is so dark. So cold. So scary. The silence is deafening. But there is hope in there.” “Immanuel, God with us” is as much true in the darkness of the tomb as it is when the sun rises and the stone is rolled away. Jesus entered his tomb alone and forlorn, but he didn’t stay there. Jesus welcomes us into the hope that Sunday is coming, that he is coming. And that changes everything.
A time to meditate:
Music: Our recommendations include - “Take Courage,” Bethel Music, Kristene DiMarco or “Lux Aeterna,” Edward Elgar. Listen on our Spotify playlist
Reflect: Perhaps life feels messy. I encourage you to join Joseph of Arimathea as he enters a messy bit of Jesus’ story. Perhaps nothing has turned out as you hoped. It was the same for Joseph. Perhaps you can’t see how it all ends. It was the same for Joseph. As you sit with him, forlorn by the tomb, ask God for patience and peace in the waiting and the fearing and the not-knowing.
Prayer: Lord, on my silent Saturdays, today or whenever they come, I choose not to inch. I choose to say with Mary Magdalene that you are still my Lord. And I trust that after every Saturday comes Sunday, after the crucifixion is resurrection, and after death is life. Come, Lord Jesus, amen.
This is an extract from Strange Kingdom by Ken Costa. You can find the book in all good retailers including Amazon