New Perspectives on the Way of the Cross | February 21 to March 20

Daily Devotional Sept 6 2021

Psalm 41, 52; 1 Kings 13:1-10; Phil. 1:1-11; Mark 15:40-47
Joseph of Arimathaea buys a ‘sindona’ to wrap Jesus’ body in. That’s a fine–and expensive!–linen cloth used as a shroud; Herodotus in one of his histories mentions how the Egyptians lay a cherry-red sindona over their linen-wrapped mummies. In the Bible, it’s a word used only six times. Five (once each in Matthew and Luke, three times in Mark) are in reference to the burial cloth of Jesus. The remainding instance is that mysterious young man in Mark 14:51 who’s with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, wearing nothing but a ‘sindona,’ who’s grabbed by the guards and shucks off his shroud, running away nude. It’s a very peculiar passage: who wears a shroud and no underwear? Is something symbolic going on there?
At any rate, Joseph invests heavily in Jesus. A new tomb, probably in a commercial cemetery carved catacomb-style into the walls of the quarry, would have cost real money. A sindona isn’t cheap, and buying one at the last minute before Passover-Sabbath shutters the shops would have cost a pretty penny. And he goes to the Roman governor in person to ask for the body. Joseph, in other words, may have been a secret follower up to this point, but he’s now committing in a very public way. He’s saying to whoever cares to pay attention that he disagrees with the Sanhedrin.
Too little too late, you may say. Where was Joseph–where for that matter was Nicodemus?–during the trial itself? But here’s the thing, friends: sometimes we come late to the table when it comes to the truth. Sometimes we are distracted, or take longer to figure it out, or to screw up our courage to stand for what’s right. What matters isn’t whether you’re on board for the whole journey: what matters is that you get on board, period. And Joseph does that, even though standing up for Jesus at this moment, when the Lord was in rigor mortis and His disciples all in hiding, probably felt useless and no doubt lost him friends and influence. The Gospels don’t chastise Joseph for being late to the party: they praise him and his sindona for showing up at all.
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Steven Wilson

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Grace Church is the oldest Episcopal parish in the four states area.
Rooted in worship of the Risen Christ, we draw our understanding of His commandment to love one another from Holy Scripture, reason and tradition—and we encourage our membership actively to seek a deeper personal relationship with Christ, a relationship founded in love of God and of neighbor.

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