Holy Week 2015 | Saturday: One Hundred Pounds

FOP2015_400HOLY SATURDAY • APR 4

One Hundred Pounds

Read John 19:38–42.

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. (v. 40)

Saturday is the day that Jesus is laid in the tomb. The Gospel of John tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea wrap Jesus’ body with spices and aloe in strips of linen. When I read the story recently, there was a detail that stood out to me. Nicodemus brought one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to Jesus’ grave to prepare him for burial. I don’t know why, but I have always imagined Jesus’ burial preparation as sort of ethereal and quiet. However, when I think about one hundred pounds of spices plus the linens, I realize that these two were carrying a lot of weight to the grave. The preparation surely must have been very physical with a lot of sweating, as they carried the spices and Jesus’ body to the tomb.

We don’t have many details about what might have been going through the men’s minds as they performed this difficult and heartbreaking chore. I wonder if Nicodemus flashed back to the time when he asked Jesus what it took to inherit eternal life. Did he remember Jesus’ words that he must be born again? Did the words take on new meaning as he wrapped Jesus’ body in cloths and covered his skin in spices and ointment? My instinct tells me that whatever epiphany Nicodemus experienced about his spiritual journey with Jesus in the flesh was confirmed and made even more profound as he worked so intimately with Jesus in his death.

Facing death is a heavy burden. Confronting it is hard work. Still, we can learn lessons from it, right there in the tomb.

God of life and of death, thank you for being present through it all. Help me to experience your presence, even at the tomb. Amen.

These Holy Week Posts were published in the Fellowship of Prayer 2015 published annually by Chalice Press. Check out some of Chalice’s recent (and amazing) offerings such as: Sandya Rani Jha’s Pre-Post Racial America,Brian Christopher Coulter’s Be Holy,  and Stephen Ingram’s Organic Student Ministry. Of course, my book Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life is also published by Chalice Press in 2014.