Like most burial seasons, mine was a somber time. There wasn’t much activity, just a deep sense of mourning and introspective lessons.
After the dark times I experienced in my home and marriage, I thought the season of death was over. I thought (notice the emphasis on I) that I’d suffered enough by now. I hadn’t. It had been six months since we had to leave the house. I thought by now I would have received instant miracles or that everything would be restored to me the following year. It wasn’t.
My Co-laborer saw things differently. He could still hear the death rattle in my voice and still see my limbs showing signs of life. It was a slow death.
John 19:30-34 says: When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs:
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and forthwith came there out blood and water.
To be a part of Christ: we are called to identify with His death, burial and resurrection. There are some things that only we will experience, and there are some things that He experienced so we wouldn’t have to.
For example, those being crucified with Him had their legs broken by the soldiers. In our walk with Christ, brokenness is a sure requirement. God has no use for mankind that will not undergo brokenness.
It’s the time in our lives when we can no longer continue with our activity. All our exertion and enterprise must come to an end and we must rest as we wait for Him to raise us up again. It’s our nature to wrestle to the end with death. Our flesh doesn’t want to die, and we grow weary with trying to put it to death. In fact, we look for ways to medicate it. (We’ll talk about that another time.)
God will allow experiences that will come to break our legs, helping to hasten our death.
Jesus freely laid down His life, having already dealt with our sin nature in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was the only one that day whose legs did not have to be broken. He gave up the ghost and after being pierced in His side, produced blood (life) and water (spirit and truth).
1 John 5:6, 8 says: This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one.
The piercing was done to fulfill the scriptures. It was also performed as an incentive for us to believe (John 19:35). Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Now regarding Jesus’ burial, John 19:39-40 says: And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes with the spices as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Wow! This is so powerful. Look at what our Savior provided for us. The word for wound in the Greek language is, Deo; it means to fasten or tie, bind or oblige by a religious or moral obligation, to pronounce or determine something to be binding or obligatory.
Verse 39 tells us that the myrrh and aloe were provided as a mixture for the linen clothes that would be wrapped around Jesus. Myrrh is symbolic of strength; aloe is symbolic of healing. If a body was going to be in a grave, why would it need strength and healing?
It would need it if there was hope beyond the grave: a resurrection from death! Glory!
This is what He provided for us: strength and healing to make it through our burial season. Bless His name! It’s a promise from Him. He was bound and obligated to it.
As Jesus’ grave clothes are soaked in strength and healing, ours are not. Ours are saturated in despair and rejection. When people see you in a season of failure, they will come and try to shroud you in what’s familiar to them: the old you. They will try to engulf you in their theology, figuring yours wasn’t working. People have a tendency to reject and condemn what they don’t understand. If it doesn’t line up with their theology, it must not be God.
After going through a series of events that broke my legs, my mourners tried to bind me for burial. People tried to offer me their comforts, ideas they wouldn’t have suggested to me, if they believed I still had hope. I thank God He went before them, binding me His way.
Job 19:9, 10 13-14 says: He hath stripped me from my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: mine hope had he removed like a tree. He hath put my brethren far from me, mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinfolk have failed and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
Jeremiah 20:10 says: For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed and we shall prevail against him and we shall take our revenge on him.
Both of these men were going through intense suffering. Job was beginning to think God had left him and he was starting to feel sorry for himself. Still, in the end, he hoped in the resurrection. Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet and he felt very human in his suffering. The very people he was called to minister to were now persecuting him daily. He accused God of deceiving him and wanted to stop ministering but realized he couldn’t because the word was like fire shut up in his bones.
Both of these passages of scripture had become personal truth to me. My experiences with persecution during this season were too numerous for me to count, as they were happening in rapid succession.
I recall one night, as I headed to the store, I was stopped by the second red light just a block from my house. It had been six months since we had to leave our home and the Lord had miraculously blessed us with a two-bedroom duplex, less than five miles from where we used to live. We lived closer to the main thoroughfare that many traveled from the city to the county. Still, I rarely ran into anyone.
He kept me hidden.
As I waited for the red light to change, I felt the gaze of someone in the car to the right. It was a former church member who I had grown very fond of over the years. We shared meals together. Our children played together. And my husband and I had counseled and helped this family. I waved excitedly at the woman, glad to see a familiar face.
There was no time to roll down my window, due to the light changing. I was relieved. I wasn’t ready to answer any inquiries about my family’s well being.
I could hardly hide the shock on my face as I looked over to wave goodbye before driving off and noticed the sister was hysterically laughing at me. I had spent much time with this woman and knew her various facial expressions. Every time that I had seen her or her children (all but one) after that evening they would turn their heads.
I hadn’t had time to consider the fact that the news of my troubles had traveled back and forth on that busy road.
Being greeted with taunting laughter became common. People who once respected my ministry and title now would turn their heads or brush past me, barely mumbling hello when I saw them on the street. Some started referring to me by my first name. Others called me baby or honey, which seemed condescending since we didn’t have relationships where those terms would be appropriate.
I had adapted the art of praying for their wayward loved ones, or about problems I remembered them sharing with me until I could work my way up to asking God to richly bless them.
I was expecting words of comfort when I saw these people. Isn’t that what you receive during times of death? I wondered one day.
Then the Lord spoke, “Do you want their pity or My Power?” The choice for me was easy. I turned my gaze towards Him, the one who had the power to rain on the just and unjust.
Please join us next week as we conclude the segment, The Burial.
Tamara D. Brown (c) Copyright 2011