jesus_on_cross

 

It’s Good Friday. It’s getting on in the day, it’s about four hours before sunset. Jesus is suffering upon the cross, hanging there, part of a larger spectacle which was not even his own but shared with two revolutionaries. The time has come and from two different accounts of the scene we can get a feel for how it all played out. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Jesus of Nazareth is dead. His long ordeal has come to an end found only in death. For the next 48 hours Friedrich Nietzsche and Time magazine are both right. God is dead.

time-is-god-dead
Normally for those who suffer this bad end, it really doesn’t get better from here. Either they are left on the crucifix while their flesh begins to rot as an ongoing reminder to the people of who’s really in charge here, or get are removed and thrown into a morbid common grave, intermingled with the remains of others who also died in like ignominy.

But not so for Jesus. After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. Jesus will receive a burial, a burial in great haste, yet surprisingly a burial fit for a king.
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews, a very influential and wealthy man. But more significantly than that, he was a follower of Jesus. He’s been a follower in secret, but with the death of Jesus, it’s time for the secret to become known. He goes to Pilate to ask permission to remove the body, which Pilate grants.

jesus down from cross
So Joseph goes to retrieve the body of Jesus, letting everyone know that he was a follower of the Galilean prophet. He almost certainly goes with servants, and he also has someone else with him. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. Nicodemus, who as it says had come to Jesus earlier that same week by night, also in secret. The same Nicodemus to whom Jesus had said “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬ and of course “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. That’s the Nicodemus who comes to help Joseph of Arimathea remove the body of Jesus.

garden of jesus tomb

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” We know from Matthews gospel that it is his own new tomb that Joseph lays Jesus down in – “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” Matthew‬ ‭27:59-60‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So Joseph gives how own new tomb in his own garden in the shadow of Golgotha, Nicodemus gives 75 pounds of spices (think six figures plus!!) Together, they are giving this carpenter from Nazareth who had been crucified just hours before a burial fit for a king. That is the declaration they are making, no longer in secret but to all who watch, that YES!!, we think this man was the king, the Jewish Messiah.

golgotha

Jesus is taken from the crowd at Golgotha to what is actually a walled garden very nearby. Nearby, yet it seems like a thousand miles away. Golgotha means “the skull”. It is a terror and a horror, an abandoned rock quarry now used only for crucifixions, a brutal, lifeless place. The only trees are dead trees used to crucify.
Jesus is taken from here to a quiet garden. In a garden a dead man can Rest In Peace. Joseph’s garden is a walled garden and seems far away from Golgotha, the place of the skull. A garden is not a place of horrors, but a peace of life, beauty and peace. It is a place to grow herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, trees and flowers. In it you will smell not the stench of death but the beautiful fragrance of life. In this garden Joseph lays Jesus into his own virgin tomb, and the virgin tomb becomes the new virgin womb.

Garden Wide Desktop Background
Jesus is dead. God is dead. Dead and buried, buried in a garden. A garden is a good place to grow a good seed. As Good Friday rolls into Holy Saturday, the son of man is turned into a good seed in a peaceful garden.
Remember what Jesus had said earlier regarding his own death? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭ESV. The seed has died and been planted, ready to bear much fruit.

Gardens are important places in the Bible. We began in a garden, Adam and Eve were put in charge of the garden of Eden, until they lost the garden because of their sin. Much of the point of all the law and the prophets is to recover that garden.
Jesus’ passion began in the garden of Gethsamane, it all ends up in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. The Son of God is planted as a holy seed in the quiet garden.

jesus laid to rest
And so we come to an end of all our quests and all our striving, to a holy sabbath. When the work is done and the seed is sown, there is nothing left to do but wait.

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  John‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” John‬ ‭19:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

John Lewis

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “God is dead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s