Friday, April 06, 2007

Habeas Corpus: Having the Body

Luke 23:50-52

50 • Now there was a man named Joseph,
from the Jewish town of Arimathea.

• He was a member of the council,
a good and righteous man,
51 who had not consented to their decision and action;
and he was looking for the kingdom of God.

52 • This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Just while the desire to have the
killing of Jesus drawn out was ebbing out of the crowd and the centurion (too late) was protesting his innocence, a new determination entered into an erstwhile 'secret' disciple of Jesus to ask Pilate for his body to be released to him.

The Romans left nothing to chance on such occasions so as surely as they would have provided the right number of crosses, nails and soldiers to execute the three men they had led out to die, they certainly had three graves ready dug at the site, with the bags of quicklime ready to speed up the dissolution of the bodies. No doubt the bodies of the two thieves were thrown into their permanent graves but the body of Jesus was taken to rest in his temporary tomb.

It was not in God's plan for the body of Jesus to be reduced to dust and ashes so, although Joseph appears here somewhat like a suddenly convenient but not previously mentioned crucial character in a cheap detective novel, Luke wasn't concocting fiction; this man or his memory was to be found in the village of Arimathea. It was a matter of record that this Joseph had integrity as a person, that as a council member he had not consented to the death of Jesus and, crucially, that he had been looking for the kingdom of God before he went to Pilate.

Further evidence that this character was not conjured up by God at the last minute as a contingency to save the body from dissolution is to be found in the prophecy of Isaiah. The Roman preparations for disposing of the body of Jesus are found predicted in
Isaiah 53:9
And they made his grave with the wicked

but so is the intervention of Joseph
and with a rich man in his death …

Jesus committing his spirit into God's keeping was justified when we see the preparations made from eternity for the keeping of his body.

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