Jesus is dead. These are the darkest hours our world has ever seen. And in this dark hour we're introduced to Joseph of Arimathea (another post here), the man who, after the humiliation of the cross, brought the dignity of a proper burial. I wish that we knew more about this man named Joseph, but he seems to me to be the kind of person you'd want as your close friend, a man who when the worst happens doesn't implode. He was still thinking, still working, still doing the right thing.
There is one other small piece of information that Luke gives us when he introduces Joseph to the narrative. He uses this little phrase to describe Joseph:
...he was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Camp on that for a while. Here's a man who, even though he was a member of the ruling elite and apparently had status, power and wealth, saw through the vapor of all that and knew that this present reality wasn't what he was ultimately designed for. He knew in his soul that there was an entirely 'other' world out there somewhere, and because of that, he was not putting roots down in this current one. Like being at an enjoyably pleasant party, but not really being there, because you're constantly glancing out the window looking for a car to pull into the drive, anticipating the person you're in love with to come and take you away. He was waiting for, hoping for, praying for this vision of a new reality to indeed become reality...for the kingdom of God to come to men.
When Jesus pulled up, Joseph knew that what he had been waiting for had finally arrived. He bought in, and entered in. I think he left the party. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth for men to enter in to. A kingdom that Jesus told us was not of this world. A spiritual realm...but a very real realm.
At the moment when Joseph was calmly stepping up and playing the man in a crisis, another of Jesus' friends was imploding. Peter was not a good man in a crisis. But the amazing thing is that Peter eventually got it, and just like Joseph, using the passport of faith, he stepped into the kingdom of God. There, in this new realm, the Spirit of God gave him the backbone he'd never had. And later, it would be Peter who would refer to folks who had eyes of faith, like Joseph of Arimathea, as 'strangers in the world.'
I want to become a good and upright man like Joseph, to be deeply unsatisfied with the party thrown by the kingdom of this world, to be hungry to live my moments in the kingdom of God. It's right here, all around me...Jesus tore the heavens in two to make it so.