THERE IS A FRIEND WHO STICKS CLOSER THAN A BROTHER

In today’s reading we read the account of Jesus’ burial in each of the four gospels. All four gospels give us a slightly different perspective on the events surrounding Jesus’ burial. But all four record that Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a secret disciple of Jesus went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus for burial. Under Roman law, prisoners sentenced to death forfeited the right to burial, but family members could ask for the body. But it is not a family member, or even one of the 12 who asks for the body. The disciples who openly followed Jesus during His lifetime deserted Him at the end. His brothers and sisters are not mentioned in the gospel accounts as being in Jerusalem during His crucifixion. His mother, Mary was apparently unable to request His body for burial. It was two men (Joseph along with Nicodemus) who had kept their faith in Christ secret, that were willing to publicly identify themselves with Jesus so that He might receive a decent burial.

I am reminded of a verse in Proverbs:  "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (18:4 ESV)

What of us? What sort of friend to Jesus do we aspire to be? Are we like His disciples who ran away at His arrest? Or His family members who are unaccounted for during His trial and crucifixion? Or are we like Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple who risks much in asking Pilate for the body of Jesus? May we continue to strive to be that friend who sticks closer than a brother!

Paul Schmidt, Elder

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