“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock . . .,” Matthew 27:57-60a, NKJV
If at no other time of the year, it is during this season when we are drawn closer to the death, burial and the resurrection of Christ. As well we should be. In just one week we will be celebrating Easter (Resurrection Sunday) when are starkly reminded of the cost of our sins and the victory that Jesus gained over it all.
The cost was heavy but the price had to be paid. It was unavoidable. But, that’s not the end of the story. To get to the end let’s back it up some first.
Sitting at what we now call the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper, the Bible tells us, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins,'” (Matthew 26:26-28, NKJV).
Through all of the hints and teachings, if the disciples never really understood Jesus’ mission, He clearly lays it out here. Through the bread He showed the brokenness His body would endure. Isaiah’s prophecy would soon be fulfilled. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5, KJV).
With that fulfillment a new covenant would begin. God’s plan for salvation would once and for all be sealed by His shed blood.
Knowing that, after we arrive back to the point after His death, how must it have felt for Joseph of Arimathea to handle the lifeless body of the Savior, whom he has come to identify with, for he himself became a disciple also (Matthew 27:57)?
After His body was given to Joseph, the Bible says, “he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb.” This is such a beautiful picture of the care and love for a Savior who gave it all up for him.
How are we handling the body of Jesus?
Joseph made sure it was wrapped in “clean linen.” Through the brokenness of His body we have been healed. Through His shed blood, we have been washed. We carry the Savior and His new covenant on the inside of us. Have we wrapped Him in “clean” vessels?
David said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10, KJV). The spiritual house on the inside of each of us has to be clean. Dust particles of any works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) has to be removed. “Such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:21, NKJV). “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NKJV).
When God blessed us with Holy Spirit, it’s as if we are taking on a part of Christ. We can’t wrap Him in just anything. We have to meticulously make sure what we wrap Him in is clean, using the same care that Joseph of Arimathea did.
Then, “he laid him in his new tomb.” His refers to Joseph’s. It was Joseph’s new tomb that Jesus was being laid in. The vessel that Jesus was laid in was new.
When we have Christ on the inside of us we are not the same as we used to be. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new,” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).
In handling the body of Jesus on the inside of us, we have to act like He is in something new. Renewed! Not to continue in all that old, used stuff before we knew and received Christ. But, brand new!
We’re not talking about refurbished or recycled to appear new. The vessel that Joseph had to offer Jesus was new! Remember, as Christians, we are that which has been made new. Are we keeping it that way? Are we handling the body of Jesus with great care? Is He wrapped in cleanness and laid in the new?
How did Joseph feel? Maybe a little in awe but mostly I feel (and it’s just my opinion) that he felt honored to be able to lovingly care for the body of the Lord. To be able to hold that brokenness with the knowing that He went to the cross and died for him and all humanity – priceless!
“This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me,” (Luke 22:19, KJV).
Let’s take special care today for how we handle the body of Jesus in our clean and new vessels. It was given for us, therefore, let us take care of it.