Having spent too much time preparing and delivering the Word concerning the Lord’s death, I could not help but to continue in this vein. Joseph of Arimathaea “begged the body of Jesus Christ.” Joseph sought the permission of Pilate to care for the battered and depleted body of the Lord after the crucifixion. The crowds were gone; the miracles lay dormant in faint memory; even the disciples had scattered throughout the countryside. Joseph was there to care for His body when all hope and future promise had been wrung out. It was Joseph who was present to attend to the needs of what remained.
The narrative awakened my mind to the story of a church in the south that suffered greatly. The issues are too numerous to tell, but the result was a depleted church and a battered ministry. After all the dust settled, it devolved into a small, broken body. A young couple, however, stayed to care for the building and properties. You could find them in daily duties maintaining the grounds and keeping the sanctuary clean. They said, “someone has to keep the house open.”
Juxtaposed against that bleak image is the plethora of healing revivals and musical performances in churches across America. People are racing to fill the most coveted seats at conventions and conferences to see and hear whatever the new thing might be. Few want to attend to the wounded or depleted.
I see the church as the “body of Christ.” If this be the case, what shall we say of a wounded, broken, or depleted body? Who remains to care for a wounded ministry or broken heart? The compassionate spirit of Joseph of Arimathaea is in short supply. That spirit is attentive to the remaining matters when revivals and programs are over. He looks to the things that others reject. He’s there when the highs are fallen and excitement has turned away.
I present this thought in light of our hedonistic culture. Even Christians like to be gratified. I submit that caring for the Lord after Calvary is critical to the remaining story. Jesus’ body needed to be washed, wrapped, and placed in a tomb for there to be the possibility of a resurrection. Yet, anointing a dead Christ doesn’t sound glamorous. It’s not like embracing a living Messiah full of power and strength. In light of the Gospel and the fulfillment of Pentecost, someone has to care for what remains. I’m looking for the spirit of Joseph from a place called Arimathaea.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole