Diary Entry--Easter Friday--Joseph of Arimathea
By David Ritchie
Although my heart is breaking at what my people have done, in myself I feel at peace. In fact I feel better than I have felt for a long time. This has been the most significant day of my whole life, and I need to write it down.
I donít know what I expected for I had real hope in him. Somehow I felt there would still be life, although I had seen with my own eyes that he was dead. I have never touched a dead person until tonight, but without doubt he is dead.
Nicodemus and I had real problems getting him off that cross. We were so careful with him, for even though he was dead, we did not want to add to the damage already inflicted on his body. It was so mutilated, there was hardly any whole skin left--and what there was, felt so clammy. I have just finished washing the blood from my own body, and I am waiting for the Sabbath to pass before I wash his blood from my clothes.
Even as I begged Pilate for his body, my whole being was shaking inside. I could not believe what I was doing, but something inside just urged me on. As children, mother had taught us to respect God, and in my heart I knew that this Jesus was a man sent from God. I longed to follow him and be with him and his disciples, but the Pharisees would have excommunicated me. So I kept away.
For three years I have loathed myself for being such a coward. But tonight, oh it feels good, tonight, when everyone else had deserted him, I begged his body from Pilate, and along with Nicodemus, we buried him in the tomb I had bought for our family.
I am ashamed that I never took him to my house while he was alive. He always hung around with poor people and sinners. But at least now, in his death, he is lying in a rich manís tomb--my tomb.
I still cannot believe it. Nicodemus and I--two cowardly Pharisees throughout his life; now in his death, we were the only ones to take him from that cross. I had expected to meet Peter, or James, or John, but like all the rest, they kept their distance--and rightly so, for my colleagues would have killed them too, had they got their hands on them tonight.
One part of me feels so at peace. Yet, when I remember his body, tears and heartbreak overwhelm me. I have never, in my whole life, felt such extreme, opposing emotions within me. His body was so disfigured--raw flesh and broken skin, mingling into one. How could men inflict such cruelty on another man?
Those whips; he was barely recognizable--yet none of his bones were broken. Even the soldiers were surprised that he was dead, but they checked it out so they did not have to break his legs in order for him to die before the Sabbath. I think one of our Prophets said that none of the Messiahís bones would be broken; I need to check that.
I can hardly believe I touched those hands that fed the multitudes, healed the lepers; they were nailed to that rough wooden cross. My hands are so sore from removing that crown of thorns--how cruel!
My mind is still awhirl with all scenes of tonight. I did not hear all he said from the cross, as I was a little way off, but when he said, "It is finished," something came alive in me. I knew exactly what I had to do and I have done it well.
When Nicodemus and I stood at the door of the tomb, we could not take our eyes off him as he lay where we had placed him. It was a place of serenity, and we looked in wonder and amazement. Gone was the mob, and there were no cursing soldiers taking other bodies from other crosses--it was just Jesus, Nicodemus and myself.
Eventually we sealed the tomb, as Sabbath was almost on us. But somehow, something within me tells me it is not over yet. We will hear more of what happened here tonight.
David Ritchie is a grandfather of six, having the privilege of seeing his own three sons in full time service for God, now prays that through God's mercy and grace, all the grandchildren will come to a knowledge of Christ as Saviour and Lord. His interests are all kinds of church work, particularly when it touches the community, also short term mission trips, and whenever possible, he does a little writing. His full time employment is manager of a Local Authority Homecare Service in Scotland. You can write to David through the Letters page of this magazine.