John 19:38-42

38After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.

39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 

40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 

Entombment Rogier Van Der Weyden 1460 Belgium

41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

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Pilate remains conflicted. Why would he give Joseph “permission” to “take away the body of Jesus”? He must have heard the dangerous rumours that something mysterious was going to happen after Jesus’ death. Surely, he knew that the body should be kept secure.

According to Matthew’s account, the chief priests and the Pharisees were so concerned about Jesus’ body that they came to Pilate and said,

“Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead’, and the last deception would be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:63, 64).

None of this would have made any sense to Pilate. It must have sounded like lunacy. But he needs to keep the peace and so, he accommodates the concerns of the religious officials. Pilate orders that the tomb be sealed and a guard placed at the entrance to ensure the safety of its contents.

If we know the story, we know that the machinations of the religious authorities and the strategies of Pilate were inadequate to confine the power of the Life and light that Jesus embodied. The story does not end at the tomb. Death does not have the final word. Something entirely new and unexpected is coming.

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What are the strategies I use to try to keep life manageable? How do I respond when the unexpected breaks through and something entirely new comes to birth?