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  • Writer's pictureLeeAnn Witzigman

The First and Last Joseph

Matthew 27:59 “Then Joseph wrapped the body in a shroud of fine linen and placed it in his own unused tomb, which had only recently been cut into the rock.

Every word of this verse is a breath of new life. It is the human display of the very message Jesus was communicating over and over in the book of Matthew – the first will be last and the last will be first.

Jesus was first held by Joseph and last held by Joseph. His name means “God will add.” He is a representation of God our Father spoken to us in Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I Am He. I Am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

We see Jesus surrounded by people of all ages, nations, and heart conditions. What we don’t see is Him being carried by men who would have been at an earthly father’s age to Him. This speaks of the deepest care of a father …one that first held Him and physically sustained Him knowing he wasn’t biologically connected to him and one that carried Him from the cross as He was unrecognizable and instantly abandoned by the world. Two grown men who reached out to hold Him when everyone else had turned away.

Joseph of Arimathea prepared a place of ultimate glory for Jesus ahead of time. One that is so reminiscent of the crevice of the rock where Moses first showed us that a human could get close to God and glimpse some of His glory. Joseph had a space cut into a rock where he carried the lifeless, beaten, torn, and empty body of Jesus. Every step of that walk must have been so heavy. The gravity of the weight of our sin upon the Holy One. The Hope of the world looking like such brutal defeat. The hands that healed us moments ago, now shredded by the nails of a death sentence reserved for the worst of criminals. And the ache of the soul to carry the One you love into deep darkness.

It is a picture of our salvation. The moment when we cut open the tomb of our hearts and tenderly place a crucified Jesus inside of it believing He will rise and sweep out the dead things within us to make room for the life He has promised. And as we wrap Him in the finest things we can find, we see a face that doesn’t look anything like the One the scriptures told us about. So we peer closer and hover right over the face of God’s Son, looking into the wounds, dried blood, and evaporated tears, only to discover that there is something there …His face actually looks just like you and me. Our sin changed His countenance in His final hours on earth and our brokenness upon Him caused a hatred to spread so quickly that those who praised His name the day before were now the same ones who cried out for the urgency of His death. May we never forget that our sin looks like the disfigured face of Jesus in the tomb.

I wonder if Joseph saw the same thing as he laid Him down and walked backward over his footprints of tears. I wonder if he said goodbye to his crucified self as the stone was rolled over the entrance of the tomb.

From the first to the last Joseph, I wonder if we’ll be able to withstand the eruption of every heart on the day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses the Lordship of Jesus Christ!



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