Reading: Matthew 27:57-66
Years ago I was a carpenter in Atlanta. Our company was pretty specialized; we did ridiculous and amazing things for people with more money than sense. We had a running joke that some people drew with pencils and some people drew with carpenters. It wasn’t uncommon for us to come into a house and build something that would be taken down immediately when the homeowner decided they didn’t like it—then we’d build them something else.
I got to work in a lot of the older homes in Atlanta. It was really cool to see the way things used to be done and how materials have changed over the years. It was also interesting to see how the work had been done. Today it’s all power saws and pneumatic nail guns. Every time I pulled out a piece of crown molding that had been hand-nailed into the corner of a wall and ceiling, I’d think, “I’d never have made it back then.”
Probably because of that, one of the least significant details of today’s reading jumped off the page at me. In verses 59-60, the NRSV says that, “Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb which he had hewn in the rock.”
I don’t know how much rock hewing you’ve done, but this sounds like a big deal to me. Imagine taking a bluntish object, placing it against a rock face and pounding with a bigger, more blunt object. Feel the ringing impact in your hands? Now do it over and over until you’ve got a hole big enough for you and a couple of angels and/or disciples.
Now give it away.
We don’t know a lot about Joseph of Arimathea. He was rich. Liked to work with his hands, apparently. But he was a disciple of Jesus, and he was willing to give away a tomb he’d dug with his own hands for his rabbi.
When have you had opportunities to make sacrifices for God? What did you do?
When have you held back?
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