(John 19: 38-42)
What a drastic contrast there was in this garden. We are told that Joseph of Arimathea was one of the secret disciples of Jesus, and that he and Nicodemus (who dialogued with Jesus early in his ministry—see John 3) brought the body of Jesus to a tomb in a garden that Joseph had reserved for himself.
What a heavy heart they must have had. They carried the lifeless body away from the ugliness of the cross to a place of beauty. Their task was to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, and quickly, for the Sabbath was coming shortly. Have you ever handled the body of a friend? It is a sobering occasion. When Jesus was a toddler, three Magi from the east had given him gifts suited for a king. Now, Joseph gives Jesus another gift suited for a king. It was only the wealthy who could afford a tomb like this, and usually because it had been a place where all the family members were buried. Joseph gave Jesus a virgin tomb. No death had defiled the place, and in this place, they laid Jesus’ body.
They made their preparations, the Romans rolled the stone into place, and the two men were bidden to return to their homes. What a dark night that would be. But, praise be to God that this is not the end of the story! For the day after the Sabbath Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Zebedee went to the tomb. And what did they find? It was anything but what they expected!
Here in the place of death was life! Angels from heaven accompanied by all of the splendor of heaven filled this garden with light. And Jesus had arose! The garden was transformed not by earthly hands, but by the very power of God! God was saying even through the change in the garden, “Have hope, for I am in control, and I will be glorified!”
What a great God we have, dear Christian. This moment here, these words of life that were announced by the angel, are the most important words in the human language. And this event is the most important event in human history. Without the death and resurrection of Christ, there can be no hope, but with it, there is hope in abundance. Friends, rest in that hope, never deviate from it or look another way, for outside of Christ, life is nothing more than darkness and despair—much like Joseph’s garden was before the work of Christ. Glorify his name with all your life, and trust in his grace even in your darkest times, for it is more than sufficient for you. Amen.