Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. Mark 15, verses 40-47.
It seems a bit anti-climactic to talk about things that happened on Good Friday when today is the Monday after Easter, yet please indulge me a bit while we do. It’s good news.
Awhile back, my pastor friend, Mark, exhorted our congregation to be “Easter people.” Yesterday, during Easter service, he reiterated this theme in a slightly different way. We should be people who live joyfully knowing that God Immanuel, Jesus our Savior, kept His promise and rose from His murdered death. He was killed, embalmed, and put in a grave on Friday. On Sunday morning, Jesus was back in action, just as He said He would be. It means He is exactly who He said He is, and that our believing in Him means we’re eternally set free from the overwhelming guilt over our doing unholy things. I can let them go; you can let them go. God doesn’t see our sins any more. He sees us perfect because He looks at us through the window of Jesus and His perfect life and death.
The Good Friday lesson to remember is that we get to lay our sins in the grave. Jesus took them away. They are dead; they have died, gone away, and are no more for us. Yes, notice the dedication and devotion with which Jesus’ followers still pursued and believed in Him even as He died. They loved Him; they did right by Him even after He was gone and their hopes apparently crushed.
But don’t lose sight of the fact that, with Him, all our sins are dead forever. We no longer have to be burdened by them. We are part of eternity here and now, and because of what He did, we GET TO start fresh. To truly repent, to change, to adjust, to make amends, and best of all to forgive. To forgive and then move forward knowing that, no matter what tough things the world has in store for us, we’re Easter people who know that we can’t ever be truly destroyed.
Most of all, death itself is destroyed. God didn’t create death, but He allowed it as the consequences of our free will to choose things other than Him. Death is the absence of God because God is life. Death is un-love because, the opposite of death is God, who is all love. God didn’t create us to die: He created us to live in harmony with Him, our loving, Holy, and just creator. When our ancestors (and later we) chose differently, God respected our choices knowing that our choices carried the penalty of death. God hates death so He Himself, Jesus, the God-man, came, lived, and died to destroy death. He died on Good Friday to restore balance to mankind’s destiny, then He began a new destiny for us on Easter Sunday by rising, living, and moving forward in a world that could finally see Him for who He was and is. Jesus hated death; He hates it still. So He offered Himself as the cure for the common death. On the Monday after Good Friday and the Easter to which it gave way, this is the best news of all.
Risen Lord Jesus, bless You for all You did in dying and living for us. I’m so thankful for all You’ve done!
Read Mark 15, verses 16-47.