waiting

Mark 15 retells the story of Jesus' trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. This year, I've been particularly challenged by the implications of Jesus' burial.

The stone is rolled over the entrance. The door is closed. And if we place ourselves with the women there, we’re forced to wonder, is this the end? As one writer reflects, “Joseph’s stone is like the period that stops the sentence. Boom!—the story’s done. And when the story’s over, the very air is empty…silence” (Walter Wangerin). Like the women left lingering after their dead leader is buried, we cry out, “Jesus, Without you I am a nothing. I am nowhere. You are dead. My world is gone…”

And so we wait.

But we don’t like waiting. In our fast paced lives where efficiency drives our social and self-satisfaction, waiting is weak. We hate waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting for our birthday. Waiting to find a spouse. Or, waiting for our spouse! Waiting to save enough money for that vacation. Waiting to get healthy. Waiting for that person to forgive me. No one really likes waiting.

So we find ways around it. We skip ahead in line. We buy our own birthday gifts. We rush into relationships. We pay for things on credit. We demand forgiveness instead of waiting for it.

Yet along with the suffering of Jesus, Good Friday is all about waiting…

Mark tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was waiting “for the kingdom of God.” His waiting, in fact, led to a risky action even Jesus’ own family or disciples wouldn’t do. A respected member of the very group who hours earlier pushed Pilate to execute Jesus, now asks for Jesus’ body. What would people think? Won’t Pilate be confused? Or worse, threatened? That’s dangerous. Do nothing! But you see, we often think waiting is passive or a waste of time. Joseph’s waiting is purposeful, intentional. We remember, he's waiting “for the kingdom of God.” Joseph’s is a risky type of waiting. Waiting doesn’t have to be a waste a time.

Part of the mystery of God’s love in Jesus on the cross is the waiting. Death and sin aren’t easily overcome. There is a cost. We are forced to wait. And it’s hard. It’s uncertain. “The thunderous events on Golgotha give way to a scene that is subdued and sober, an almost anticlimactic finale to the passion story…Jesus is indeed dead and buried” (Donald Senior). The stone is rolled over the grave. Jesus is gone.

And like Joseph. Like the women. Even like the other disciples, who have all deserted Jesus in this dark hour. We wait. We’ve seen the injustice and suffering borne on our behalf. Jesus has walked the path we were destined to walk. And now, in his suffering and death, he’s disappeared behind the stone. That was supposed to be us! And now he’s gone. Buried. The end?

We’re left to wait…

2 comments:

Ryan said...

"But you see, we often think waiting is passive or a waste of time. Joseph’s waiting is purposeful, intentional. We remember, he's waiting “for the kingdom of God.” Joseph’s is a risky type of waiting. Waiting doesn’t have to be a waste a time."

Well said. Thanks for this, Dave.

David Warkentin said...

Yeah, I'd never really thought of Joseph's part in the story before.

Post a Comment