Today’s Bible reading

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.

Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. – John 19:38-42

More thoughts for meditation

In the gospel of John, the setting for Jesus’ tomb is unique from the other gospels. It is in a garden (19:41). This was also the scene of Jesus’ arrest and it will be the setting for Jesus’ first resurrection appearance to Mary. This place where his body is laid is significant; it is foreshadowing what is to come.

A garden calls to mind new life and new creation. But at the same time, every gardener knows that death is part of the life cycle in a garden. They go hand in hand. Jesus himself spoke of this when he predicted his death. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain: but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

With new spring plants and flowers coming up around us, and weariness of the toll of life, it might be easy to bypass being with Jesus in the grave today. We can busy ourselves with preparations, or simply move on like any other day. But today could be a time to be buried and still, waiting in the dark of the earth for transformation. It could be a time to acknowledge the tension of transition, unresolved loss, death of expectations, unanswered questions and the weight of grief.  Let them all be with Jesus in the tomb. And wait.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Help us, Oh God, as we live in the tension between this death and resurrection. We long to be risen but we carry in our bodies the weight of death. Give us the patience and trust of a gardener, allowing Christ’s death at work in us to make way to new life and new creation.

In the name of the crucified one, Amen.