“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 was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.” (Luke 23:50-52)
Joseph of Arimathea was a man of true courage. When Jesus’ own disciples were afraid to show their faces for fear of the Sanhedrin, Joseph stepped forward from among the ranks of the enemy and served our Lord by taking His body down off of the cross and placing it in an unused tomb. Not only would this act defy his brethren on the Council and infuriate powerful leaders in Jerusalem, but it also broke with the custom of the time to leave the bodies of “criminals” without care or proper burial. Joseph’s bold actions served as a witness and testimony to everyone that he was a follower of Jesus, the innocent Son of God.
Joseph’s renown as the caretaker of the body of Christ has endured even in secular society through the legends of King Arthur. In these, Joseph is entrusted with the “Holy Grail,” a powerful artifact that is intimately connected with the body and blood of Jesus. He is charged with passing down this task and mission to later generations; all the way down to Sir Galahad, who is eventually taken up into heaven by the power of the Grail.
Like Joseph, we have been entrusted with the care of Christ’s body, the Church. Believing people throughout the world make up the members this body, and are united in Spirit under Jesus, our Head. We have been given a monumental task to guard and protect this sacred vessel, preserving it for future generations as the place by which they come to the Father through His Son by Word and Sacrament.
Luke tells us that Joseph was “a good and upright man.” Why does he say this? What makes Joseph good and upright? Joseph is moved by the Holy Spirit to come to the cross of Jesus, just as we are today. Joseph is awaiting the kingdom of God, just as the saints today watch and pray. And just as Joseph takes the body of Christ in faith and courage, so too do we come to the Lord’s altar and take Christ’s body, with His blood, for the strengthening of our faith and the endowment of His righteousness. Doing this is the command of our Lord Jesus, and it is the testimony of our faith in Him as the Holy Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, preserve Your Church through the preaching of the Gospel. Help us to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again through faithfully partaking of His body and blood. Let this testimony draw those around us to the cross of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.