A Borrowed Tomb

Scripture selection: Luke 23:50

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.

It’s not a part of the story that gets much press.  Much has been said and written about the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion, and the death.

This part of the story is sometimes almost overlooked but it is a particularly beautiful and poignant part of the tale.

In the end, Jesus body was put in a borrowed tomb.

A kind, thoughtful man – a member of the Council – “good and upright, who had not consented to their decision and action,” took action himself. Joseph of Arimathea did something very powerful. He provided a final resting place for the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

How courageous and how kind that was.

Why did he do it?

Perhaps he did it because, as the scripture says, he had been
“waiting for the kingdom of God.”

Now his hopes seemed crushed.  So, in sorrow, he offered the one thing he could do – he could see to it that Jesus’ body would not be left for the jeering onlookers and the scavenging birds.  He would act with religious devotion and loving compassion and see to it the body was cared for.  This he could do with the help of some equally loving and courageous women.

They serve as shining examples of great faith and love.

And what joy they would soon experience when they found the tomb empty.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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