This morning’s devotion was excerpted from An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley.

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (15:43)

If true love asks for nothing in return, then in this passage true love is on display. Prominent followers of Jesus (many of whom have a “Mary” in their name) have kept vigil with Jesus “from a distance” as he hangs upon the cross. These and a host of other women are emotionally and spiritually present with Jesus during his final moments. Two of the Marys even follow Jesus’ body to the tomb so that they might mark the spot and later return to honor his body.

Curiously, not only do the Marys play a role in Jesus’ burial but so does a Joseph. Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Sanhedrin, which condemned Jesus) summons the courage to petition Pilate for Jesus’ body. He releases Jesus’ naked body from the cross, adorns it in linen, and secures it behind a stone in what was likely a new tomb cut for Joseph’s own family. Such was the impact of Christ’s gracious love for every Mary and Joseph.

Mark calls the Friday on which Jesus died “Preparation Day” (v. 42)—preparation for the Sabbath rest on the following day. Yet could any of Jesus’ closest followers have known that the day of his death was a preparation day for his resurrection? That the only thing “final” about this day is that their sins were finally and completely forgiven? How do you prepare for a life-altering day like that? As I reflect on this passage, I find myself deeply cheered by the fact that even my worst day can be a preparation day for the work of the risen Christ in the midst of brokenness and grief.

Jesus, who knows what you are graciously preparing for us on this day?