Blessed… What’s the Big Deal?

57 That evening a man named Joseph came. He was a rich man from Arimathea who had become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission to take it. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.

At this point in the narrative, Matthew seems to take a bit of a tangent. Some might say he goes out chasing rabbits. Jesus has died. What difference could it possibly make if Joseph of Arimathea took possession of Jesus’ body? What is the big deal about the clean cloth? Why is a new tomb important? Why do we need to know a large stone covered the entrance. What is the deal with the two women sitting in front of the tomb? Why is Matthew telling us all this? What is the big deal? Jesus is dead. Shouldn’t we, at this point, just move on?

Matthew has some really good reasons for every one of the pieces of information he places in the story. This isn’t going down a rabbit trail. What Matthew does here sets up the next and most important part of the story.

Joseph of Arimathea taking possession of Jesus’ body shows there were more who followed Jesus faithfully than just the (now eleven) disciples. What is more, some of those who followed Jesus at the end, were people of both means and importance. Joseph and Nicodemus to name but two.

Just as was the case of John the son of Zebedee, Joseph did not fear an association with the crucified Jesus. To do something such as Joseph did, asking for the body of Jesus, a convicted criminal in the eyes of most in Jerusalem, could lead to guilt by association. It is a big part of why Peter would deny Jesus. Joseph made no such denials and was willing to do his part for Jesus.

That Joseph placed Jesus’ body in a new tomb is also important. If the tomb had been used, how would one of that era tell Jesus’ bones from the bones of another? It would have required even greater faith. The eye could see the bones of others. Were the bones the bones of Jesus or bones that were already present? Likewise, if Jesus had been treated as most common criminals he would have been buried in a pauper’s grave. Again, you wouldn’t know one body from another.

The large stone was necessary because it made it close to impossible for the disciples to have stolen the body. The stone would keep honest disciples honest.

And the woman in front of the tomb? Matthew shows the depth of their grief. He also seems to show how these women wanted something to happen. We see how they believed something would happen. They sat there. They waited.

There is one more item of interest in this passage. Jesus’ body was wrapped in a clean cloth. We will save that one for a couple of days. It plays a role in the resurrection story itself.

All these things are important for those wanting proof of the resurrected Christ. Matthew is giving them all he had. The rest must be accepted on faith.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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