November 14 – Entombed

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:40-42 ESV)

Jesus’ body was placed in Joseph’s tomb on the day that he died. It was a tomb cut from the rock near where the crucifixion took place. With the Sabbath approaching Joseph used the already prepared tomb in the garden to lay Jesus in.

Jesus is often referred to as the second Adam. The first Adam first sinned in a garden. It seems only fitting that the death to end the threat of sin and death should result in our savior being buried in a garden.

He was buried. He was dead. But he didn’t stay dead. He didn’t stay buried. He was laid in a borrowed tomb, but he arose the conqueror of death, Hell, and the grave.

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November 12 – Secret Followers

Read: John 19:38-42

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. (John 19:38, 39 ESV)

Joseph and Nicodemus had decided to follow Jesus as disciples, but not in the open. They were two of Jesus’ secret followers. I can’t help but think how that might have changed for them the day they buried the Son of God.

Do you ever wonder if they understood the full implications of all that was going on? Did they truly know who Jesus was? If they were too afraid to follow him openly why did they decide to claim his body?

I don’t have all of the answers, but I feel like scripture points us to one possibility. The death of Jesus changed everything. Creation itself responded in some pretty incredible ways. The supernatural activity of the day may have been the push Joseph and Nicodemus needed to move beyond mental consent and into the realm of heartfelt following.

How open are you about your faith? Do you keep it a secret because of what you think others will think about you? If so, what will it take for you to move beyond being a secret follower to just plain following?

November 5 – Prophecy: Unbroken

It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. (Exodus 12:46 ESV)

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. (Psalm 34:20 ESV)

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37 ESV)

Moses and David each prophesied that the Messiah would die without having any bones broken. Both were correct, as John’s Gospel points out. Jesus died before the soldiers began breaking the accused’s legs.

Not only were his bones unbroken, but his power was unbroken as well. His sovereignty went unbroken. Even as they pierced his side Jesus held all authority.

They killed Jesus. They bloodied him. But they never broke him. And no one ever will.

November 1 – Finished!

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 ESV)

When I was younger I was really bad about starting something and never finishing it. These days I try to sing a different tune, and seeing something through to completion is a great joy. I can really only speculate at the sheer amount of joy Jesus must have felt at knowing he had finished his work.

Jesus stepped across time and spice, wrapping himself in humanity, and set out on a lifelong quest to mend the broken bond between God and man. He taught. He travelled. He preached. He healed. He also hurt. He bled. And he died.

Jesus drew his last breathe knowing that the work of the Father was accomplished. Mankind would be restored to the Kingdom of Heaven for anyone who wished to be a part of it. The hard part was over. It was finished.

October 29 – Prophecy: Lots & Bones

I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:17, 18 ESV)

so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, (John 19:24 ESV)

One thousand years before the birth of Christ David foretold some explicit details of our savior’s murder. He saw the nature of the bloody scourging which would leave him bloodied and exposed. He saw that the executioners would cast lots for the Messiah’s clothing.

David was far from a perfect man or king, but he was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Not because of his perfection, but in-spite of his imperfections. David was a guy that had the ability to overcome his own hangups and follow God’s will for his life. David wasn’t perfect, but God used him to prophecy about the coming of another king—a perfect king.

David’s prophecies came true. Jesus was scourged until his ribs and bones were exposed. It was horrible. He was killed on the cross, and his murderers gambled for his clothing. And while the specific details of Christ’s death are gruesome and tragic, the end result is glorious, and beautiful. That God would use imperfect people to point ahead to the perfect one, sent to rescue us from our imperfection, is pretty incredible!

October 26 – Not A Kindness

John 19:28-30

A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:29 ESV)

I remember reading the crucifixion story early in my teens and thinking that the executioners had decided to show a measure of mercy to Jesus by offering him wine. Later in life I learned better. That action was not one borne out of kindness, compassion, or mercy.

The Romans had developed a crude system of public toilets, basically just holes to sit on. The poor would capitalize on the opportunity for income by carrying sponges on sticks. They would dip them in sour wine and offer to clean the fecal waste from those using the public restroom for an extremely small fee. This is the same type of sponge which was offered to Jesus.

He came and lived blameless, sinless, and clean. The final hours of his life were marked with horrors, shame, and violence—and one final showing of apparent mercy turned out to really just be a sickening act of disrespect and contempt. No, Jesus was shown no measure of mercy or kindness by his captors.

Not only did Christ take on sin. Not only did he receive a beating, be he was horribly mutilated. He was deeply shamed. He was even force fed the equivalent of ancient toilet water. It was the culmination of all that Hell could muster. An attempt to mire the Son of God in the lowest muck of man. The kindness of Christ crucified by the cruelty of man.

October 24 – Not Alone

John 19:25-27

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25 ESV)

Recently a string of rather unexpected deaths have rocked several of my friends. Death is a difficult thing to deal with. Even when you have the assurance that a person was a believer it is still tough to have them suddenly out of your life. Even though it is a temporary removal.

Jesus’ mother had to have been emotionally devastated by the events of Jesus’ execution. She had known from before his birth that he would face the inevitable brutality, but that wouldn’t have made it any easier. Thankfully there were friends around her to help her through it.

Jesus, from his cross, even appointed his youngest apostle, John, to watch over Mary. He took care of his mom. He didn’t want her to face life alone. It begs a curious question that I don’t really know the answer to. Where was Jesus’ adopted father Joseph?

The bible doesn’t really answer that question, but the point is that Jesus wanted Mary to be taken care of. Even in his final moments he was concerned for others. He didn’t love his life alone, he didn’t die alone, and he doesn’t wish that his people would go it alone either.