I sat down in the driver’s seat letting out a deep exhale after that walk. It was just a short 60 meters from the Post Office window to the trunk of my car. I had transported a box, heavier than I expected, but not unmanageable, with a scuffed stamp that read “Cremation Remains.” I was bringing my dad home. Or at least what was left of him; and putting him into the trunk of my car until the memorial service.
I couldn’t get the worn image of his face, kind and tired, out of my mind as I put one foot in front of the other. I wanted to talk to him. Relieved his suffering was over, but still furious at the disease that stole the last decade of his life. The reality of carrying his remains was too much for me to handle, even with my leathery emotions. I dry heaved. I hyperventilated. He’s gone. Is this all there is?
The Gospel writers don’t provide you and me with much description about the Good Friday walk Joseph of Arimathea took while carrying the limp body of Jesus to his donated, stone tomb. Joseph, a man of stature and influence, had become a disciple of the rugged Rabbi Jesus. He had seen and heard enough to know that Jesus was worth following.
And yet, in those final moments, Joseph stood watching Jesus struggle for air on the brutal cross. He heard the strained final statement of Christ, “it is finished.” He gasped at the sight of Pilate’s soldier lancing the body of the One he followed; blood and water flowed into the earth.
Imagine what may have raced through Joseph’s mind on that journey with the corpse of Christ? “He’s gone. Is it really over? Can I never talk with Him again? See His warm face again? Is the hope He spoke of finished? Is this all there is?”
Those walks with corpses and remains are unforgettable. We literally hold the reality of death and despair in our hands. The light seemed to fade to dusk on the horizon of hope for Joseph. We often find ourselves in the same place.
Where in your life are you carrying a corpse right now: a dead hope, a love disintegrated, a dream faded beyond recognition, a faith long forgotten, or a sin that consumes?
Remember this on Good Friday: despair is a choice, your choice. Dusk and despair do not need to go hand in hand. Even in the midst of death, dawn will come. My dad, after a lifetime of wandering, trusted in Christ in his final year. Joseph loyally tended the body of Christ with just enough hope. Dawn came for him.
Will you today, give up despair in the dead areas of your life? Carry hope into the dusk you are facing. Dawn will always come.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again…” Jeremiah 31:3-4a