Breathe: Saturday, April 15

Saturday, April 15 | Marcia Gaddis | John 18:1-19,42; Hebrews 10:1-25

The Breath of Anticipation

Saturday was the Sabbath. Jesus had been placed in the tomb on Friday night before sundown. Interestingly, the ones who came to care for his body after death were two men who respected Jesus, but kept their distance while he was alive. One was Joseph of Arimathea who went to Pilate to ask for the body. He secretly was a disciple of Jesus, but he feared the Jews. He was accompanied by Nicodemus who had earlier visited Jesus at night and went away disappointed because Jesus’ response was not what he wanted to hear. Both men could not quite embrace this Jesus during his life, but were the first to respond after his death. I wonder why? Perhaps the miraculous events of the previous day were the tipping point. Perhaps after all that had happened, they anticipated something more. Perhaps they truly believed Jesus was who he claimed to be for the first time. Whatever the reason, there was a new boldness to identify with Jesus.

The question was asked in an earlier reading, “Will death diminish us or enlarge us?” For many of the disciples, they went back to their jobs, probably grieving their loss in the way many people grieve today. Go back to work. Diminished. For Mary, Jesus’ mother, the excruciating death of her son must have played over and over in her mind. Her grief had to be inconsolable. Death was final and this was a day of mourning, a day of quiet, a day of simply trying to breathe. Diminished, for sure. But Joseph and Nicodemus encourage me. They found something to do in the midst of their grief and sorrow. They brought the burial supplies. They persevered to do the next thing.

And we, too, are called to persevere in the midst of death. And when we persevere—and we all do it differently—something miraculous happens. Death begins to enlarge us. The gifts we bring to each other in our sorrow and suffering become a sweet fragrance of hope and love. As we find something to do in the darkest hours, there begins to shine a glimmer of promise for things to come.

Jesus gave us only two commandments; “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Nowhere is it written that he added, “Except, of course, when you’re suffering.”

Prayerfully read the call to persevere in Hebrews 10.

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