August 6, 2007

Staying with Jesus

John 19:38–42

[My paraphrase…] Two wealthy men who’ve been pretending not to be Jesus’ disciples come forward to claim his dead body, prepare it for burial, and lay it in a tomb.

I’ve been working my way through the gospel of John, and for round about a year I’ve been mired in the crucifixion. Jesus’ willingness to suffer astonishes and puzzles me something awful, because the implications are really frightening. Back in March or April I wrote the following question on the bookmark that I keep in my breviary:

Christ is not driven by a need to avoid suffering. What does life look like, knowing this?

What did going forward with life look like for these two men who had just watched Jesus willingly endure suffering?

For one thing, they stayed with him, tolerating the discomfort of a sight, sound, smell, and touch that just about everyone else wanted to get the hell away from.

I’m struck by the tenderness of the scene. It must have taken them hours. They probably washed blood and sweat off of Jesus’ body. Was what they did women’s work? It was intimate in the extreme. They stayed with Jesus.