Summary: A Sunrise service
This Changes EVERYTHING!!!!
I can only imagine how hollow and numb Joseph must have
felt. By his side walked the equally numb and subdued
Nicodemus. They walked without saying a word.
In his hand, Joseph carried a letter; Nicodemus carried a
bag, large and heavy. They walked down the road that led from the palace of Herod to the gates of the city. Outside the city, they made a turn from the main road to a small foot path that led up a hill, a hill called Golgotha, which means "the skull."
They climbed the hill in silence ... each feeling totally alone
... each feeling as though some creature had ripped his heart out.
They were individually preparing themselves for the worst thing they would ever do, the grossest thing they would ever have to see.
It was not a job they wanted to do ... but yet, it was a job
they would not let anyone else do. They knew what they would
have to do. They would have to lift that cross, weighing over
200 pounds plus the weight of the crucified. They would lift the cross out of the hole in which it rested, then lower it slowly to the earth ... remove the body, and take it to be buried in Joseph's tomb.
They approached the cross from behind. It was a terrible
sight. A few soldiers sat nearby and on that center cross they
could recognize a body. They recognized it by the hair that
Mary had anointed days earlier, by the beard, by the body's size.
They prepared themselves for the shock before they went around to the front. They had expected this, they had been preparing themselves ever since Pilate had given them permission for this burial .. but they were not prepared.
One look nearly took their breath away. What they had
pictured in their minds was a hundred times worse in reality.
They stood there staring, forgetting the haste they must use to
bury the body.
Joseph stood there guilt ridden. His heart tom in two
because he had been a "Secret disciple"; always afraid to
confess his faith for fear of the Jews. He imagined the death of
Jesus, the loneliness, the fear, the pain, the agony. And he said,
more loudly than he wished, "I should have been there for Him. "
Nicodemus, however, did not hear him, he was remembering a
conversation that he had with Jesus long ago ... "Unless a man is born again of water and of blood he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Not until right now did he really understand, as he saw the
gash in Jesus' side, put there by the soldiers. From that gash
flowed water and blood. Now Nicodemus understood ..... it was the sacrifice of Jesus, what He did, that was our ticket to heaven.
Finally, shaken by the soldiers warning to, "move along."
Joseph handed him the letter. The soldier grabbed it, saw the
royal seal, opened it, and after reading it said, "Go on then, get it over. "
With great effort, they lifted the cross. Then, slowly they
lowered the cross and the body of Jesus. Nicodemus
remembered Jesus' words, "If I be lifted up I will draw all men
The body had to be removed from the nails. The job was
made easier because the weight of the body had tom the flesh
and enlarged the nail holes in the wrists and feet. They were
easily pulled right over the nail heads. Then Nicodemus helped
Joseph lift Jesus' body and the load was placed on Joseph's
shoulders. As they walked down the hill to a grave yard, Joseph could only think about Jesus climbing that hill with the cross on his shoulders. Nicodemus considered how Jesus had carried the weight of the world's sin. Nicodemus picked up the bag containing herbs, oils and linens.
They carried their dead Lord to a tomb, a cave with a rock
to cover the door. There they anointed the head of Jesus,
rubbing away the dry matted blood that had flowed from the
many holes in his scalp. They anointed his feet with oil and
spices and then his hands and his whole body. Then they
removed from the bag a burial shroud ... an 8 foot by 8 foot piece of cloth. This they wrapped around the body 2 and 1/2 times. Between each layer they poured more oil and spices.
Finally, Joseph took a small piece of cloth that would be
used to cover the face. Lingering, stalling ... taking one last look at his Lord .... as softly and gently as not to awaken His Savior, he covered the face of Jesus. Turning away, with great effort, they walked away for the last time, and rolled the stone over the opening of the tomb.