Last week during our Good Friday service, Isaiah 53 was read aloud. I’ve read the chapter dozens maybe hundreds of times in my life, but one line once burry came into a particular focus that evening. “They made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,” and I thought of Joseph of Arimathea, the rich man who gave his tomb to Jesus for his burial.
There are some promises God has made with clear implications for all his followers. But there are some, very few, that are so specific they apply only to a few of his followers or even just one. How is a follower to know which of God’s promises is for them specifically? How did Joseph of Arimathea know he was the rich man who would provide for Jesus in his death?
The subject of knowing, for many believers, is common. “How did you know you were going to marry him/her?” “How did you know you were ‘called’ to this place?” “How did you know to take this job, go here, say this, etc.” We are curious people who want to know. We want to be in the know and we want to be known and we want to know. This isn’t merely the plight of the control freak or anxious type, it afflicts us all. It is no mistake that the tempter’s words to Eve were “You will be like God and know…”
Did it occur to Joseph of Arimathea that he was the rich man of whom the prophet foretold? Did he know he was part of God’s cosmic plan to keep all his promises, every one? Did Joseph know his whole life, his positions of power, influence, financial blessing, and the security of a tomb before he’d even died, were all the motions of God pushing him toward an offer no one could refuse? “Here I am, here is my tomb, here are my provisions, use me.”
Yesterday morning, when the sights and sounds of “He is Risen” and “He is risen indeed” were flung far and wide, all I could think was, “Just as he said.” He is indeed risen, but that’s not all. He is risen just as he said because our God is a promise keeping God. Sometimes he keeps his promises all by himself and sometimes he moves his people into times and seasons and securities and scarcities to fulfill his promises. And most of us don’t even know we’re the one he’s using.
These are just some observations from this past Holy Week. No great epiphanies or homilies. I’m just struck by our promise keeping God and how he uses willing people to accomplish his work..