Anglican Morning Devotion for 9 February 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.”
(Mark 15:42-47; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
In awe and sorrow, the courageous women waited at the cross until the last, and then followed to observe the Lord’s being laid in a borrowed tomb in which never before had any man been laid. The tomb was hewn out of solid rock and was well-sealed by the Roman seal of authority as well as having a cohort of Roman soldiers to guard its premises.
What is the significance of the new and borrowed tomb? The death and burial of our Lord was unique in all the annals of history. It was a new tomb because the One whose body would occupy the tomb would be the first fruits of all to rise with eternal life so that we, too, may rise likewise. It was a borrowed tomb because the bodies of all who love and believe will need only a borrowed tomb at the close of the last day of our lives on earth. Following Christ does not mean to follow just along Galilee’s gentle shores, or along the rugged slopes of Sychar or the Jordan Valley. Following Jesus means following Him all the way to the courts of the High Priest and Pilate in our persecution by the world, along the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha in our sacrifices of love, to the borrowed tomb – and then to follow Him in His glorious resurrection and ascension!
It is noteworthy that so much ado was taken for the burial of Jesus when the disciples had been foretold of His resurrection. There is much of God’s Word that is kept a mystery to us until, in God’s timing, we are deemed ready to receive and understand it. The women whose hearts were full of love for our Lord, took great care in the planned anointing of the body of Christ. They did so even though Christ had proclaimed that the anointing of Mary of Bethany was the anointing in preparation for His death. The love of these women disciples emboldened them and survived the event of the sacrificial death of Christ. The love we hold for our loved ones likewise survives death. Love is the one possession we carry beyond the grave. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Our Lord gave up the ghost precisely at the moment of sacrifice of the lamb in the Temple. It is quite appropriate that the Lamb of God – the true once-and-for-all sacrifice should be made at the proper hour before the beginning of the Sabbath. He rested in the tomb over the Sabbath (a day He kept in total rest) and rose sometimes after sunset on the seventh day (Saturday).
Mary came early on the first day of the week seeking a dead body to anoint and was bereft and filled with grief. She came out of duty and loyalty for her Lord. She wept bitterly to find His body missing. The angel within the tomb asked, “Woman why weepest thou?” (John 20:13) Of course, the Holy Angel was looking out from the tomb and could see the Master approaching behind Mary. If the eyes of Angels twinkle, there must have been a twinkle in the eyes of the Angel to realize the irony of Mary weeping for the dead body of the Lord while the very much ALIVE body of Jesus was approaching from behind. How often do we hurt in presumed abandonment while the Lord is right beside?
Jesus asked Mary the same question as that of the Angel: “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” (John 20:15) No one can call your name like Jesus. If you do not believe me, ask the friend of Jesus, Lazarus, whose name He called from without a similar tomb days earlier. His sheep hear His voice. They know Him and are known by Him. In your griefs and sorrows of life, Jesus may be calling your name, too. Mary mistook Jesus for the Gardener at first (which He truly is). She could not see through her profuse tears, but when she heard her name, “Mary,” being called by Jesus, her tears of sorrow were changed to tears of joy.
If you are grief-stricken for some great loss of a loved one, why not turn to the hope and joy of the resurrection and have a borrowed tomb for your legacy on earth.