‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains that and nothing more…’ (Mark 15:46)
Bible Reflection : Mark 15:42-47
For about three years Jesus disciples had followed Him throughout the land. They had listened to Him on many occasions preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God – that the Kingdom of God was now among them. They had seen evidence of this in the miracles that Jesus had performed – healing the sick, feeding the multitudes and even raising the dead. Throughout all this, although it’s fair to say that they perhaps never fully understood all that was happening, they nevertheless played their part in Jesus mission, promising to stand with Him at all times, still perhaps expecting Him to lead them, and indeed all of Israel, to a new age of liberty and peace.
But they have now just witnessed His crucifixion and according to Mark the only ones who remain are Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and some other women who followed Jesus – and Joseph of Arimathea. In his actions Joseph not only risks being cast out by His fellow Pharisees but by taking the body of Jesus as he does, according to the Torah, he is contaminating himself and effectively eliminating himself from the rituals of the Sabbath. Yet still he is prepared to do this, such was his own belief in Jesus.
Yet maybe the real significance of this passage is the way in which it ends – rather abruptly. Jesus body is laid in the tomb, the entrance of the tomb is sealed by a large stone and the women were watching, noting where the body had been laid – no doubt in preparation for what they knew even now that they would be doing after the Sabbath. But then the narrative stops in Mark. No mention of the guards watching over the tomb, no mention of the authorities who had Jesus crucified, no mention of the disciples, no mention of anything at all of the events between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
For those who had followed Jesus those past few years that Sabbath must have seemed somewhat dark, empty and perhaps even forgettable. Their Lord had been crucified and their world had fallen apart – they surely must have been distressed and desolate and felt so alone. It would have been a day of confusion and emptiness and I sometimes wonder if we have similar feelings about this Saturday, sandwiched as it is between two very important days, Good Friday and Easter Sunday; that this day is an empty day without any real meaning.
Yet this day has to be experienced and lived through – it is part of that journey from the cross to the tomb and ultimately to the glorious Resurrection that awaits. Easter Day cannot be rushed and the shock and horror of Good Friday cannot be quickly turned into joy. We must wait patiently and faithfully for the Lord, assured that He will come to us in His Risen presence.
And so it is with any day where we feel confusion reigns and where suddenly that day feels dark and empty and we feel so alone. We have to hold on to our faith and wait patiently for the Lord, assured that we are never alone and that through the Holy Spirit the Risen Christ will come to us, walk with us and uphold us – that is what the message of Easter is all about.
Eternal and everlasting God as the body of Your one and only dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this Holy day, may we wait patiently with Him for the coming of the third day when we might rise with Him to new life, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen