'Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.'
Luke 23v50-56 (NIV)
We have a decision to make. Through the week we have been following Jesus as he Walked to the Cross. We marvelled as Jesus drank the cup of judgement for us, praying 'Not my will but your will be done'. We identified with Peter as he denied knowing Jesus. We wondered in amazement as Jesus exchanged his life with Barabbas, choosing to die for us. We heard the cry of Jesus 'Father Forgive' as he is crucified for us. We watched as Jesus breathed his last, securing for us a way back to God.
Not many stood with Jesus. The Religious authorities and Political leaders colluded to kill Jesus. The Crowds cried,'Crucify Him! Crucify Him! The disciples abandoned him and rejected him. Where do you stand? Where do I stand? With him or Against him? Following Jesus' death we meet some who stand with Jesus. Joseph and The women.
First, Joseph identifies with Jesus. Joseph was 'a member of the Council', the Religious authorities who plotted and planned to get rid of Jesus. But Joseph was different, he made a stand. He, 'had not consented to their decision or action.' However, his objections fell on deaf ears - they got their way. Now you would think Joseph would just toe the party line. That's what I would do, after all you don't want to end up like Jesus! But Joseph is not interested in position and promotions, he identifies with Jesus. He knows that Jesus has something better and greater to offer; 'he was waiting for the Kingdom.' It was worth waiting for even if it cost him his job or even his life. Joseph goes to Pilate to ask for 'Jesus' body', so that he could bury him. If there was any doubt as to who Joseph was with, it was now crystal clear.
Second, The women are devoted to Jesus. The women have been the example through these events. As Jesus was crucified they'mourned and wailed for him' (verse 27); As Jesus died they, stood at a distance, watching these things.' (verse 49). Now that Jesus has died they 'prepared spices and perfumes', ready to embalm the body of Jesus. Spices and perfumes were not cheap, they were costly. Why waste your well earned savings on a mocked, rejected, abandoned, crucified dead man? Spending so much money put their own future at risk. It was costly, but yet it was an act of devotion. To the women, Jesus was not just a dead man, he was the Son of God who gave his life for us so that we might have true life with him in his eternal Kingdom.
There's one thing about Walking with Jesus to the Cross, we can't be neutral. We either stand with him or against him. It's costly. Walking with Jesus always is. It may mean the loss of friends, it could mean the loss of a job, sometimes and in some places it will cost your life. But yet we must decide. Do I trust that following Jesus far outweighs siding with the crowds? Consider Jesus' own words to us:
'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?'
Father God help me to count the cost and trust that following you far outweighs anything I gain in this life.