Listen to the Audio version of Station 14
JESUS is laid in a tomb
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
The death of Jesus was the ultimate act of divine love. In this final station, we come to the tomb of Jesus. In Station 1, our journey began with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. And now, at this death, we return to a garden. A place where something is planted in order to bring forth new life. In this garden, the body of Jesus is laid in a freshly cut tomb.
It brings to mind something Jesus said to his disciples before his death:“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
The women who came to the tomb where the women whom Jesus healed and taught at his feet. They stood with Mary as midwives of his death before they follow his body to the tomb, where they will serve as the midwives of his resurrection. They faithfully attended his body, bore witness to his new covenant, announced his resurrection, and proclaimed the good news.
Icon by Emmanuel Lambardos the Younger , 1640 (after the prototype in Crete)
This icon-scene contains 10 figures in addition to the Body of Christ. Mary, the “Theotokos” (The One who bore God) cradles the head of the dead Christ. Behind her, Mary Magdalene with arms outstretched. The other women are professional mourners or “Wailing Women” who tear their clothes and loosen their hair in grief.
The men include John the Evangelist, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus who peers through rungs of the ladder that he used to lower Christ down from the Cross. The basket holds the tools he used and the nails he took from Christ’s hands and feet. The vessel contains ointment used to embalm the Sacred Body.
What thoughts or feelings stir in you as you look at this icon?
What do Mary's outstretched arms suggest to you?
Why depict these people? Where are the disciples?
Does as icon seem different to you than the other works of art?
Imagine you are Joseph of Arimathea. What do you feel as you stand before Pilate requesting Jesus’ body?
How willing are you to dissent from those in power when you see injustice?
According to Jewish custom, touching a dead body rendered someone unclean and unable to participate in the Passover celebration. Little did Joseph know that by giving up the old Passover lamb this act of worship made a way for us to celebrate the true Passover lamb.
Jesus took Joseph’s sins upon his body to make him clean. Now Joseph was taking the “uncleanness” of Jesus’ dead body on himself as an intimate act of worship and adoration. He was willing to give up his status, security, convenience, and position for another.
What does this stir in you? What are you willing to take up or lay down on behalf of others because of your love for Jesus?
The women who had followed Jesus throughout his ministry also followed him to his death and beyond. He ministered to them and they ministered to him. They received and responded. The way they followed Jesus was marked by a reciprocity of love.
What does following Jesus look like for you?
Lord Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth, on the Cross through wood and nails you wrought our full salvation: Wield well your tools in this, your workshop, that we who come to you rough-hewn may be fashioned into a truer beauty by your hand; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, world without end. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)