Lenten Reader | Day 40

Waiting for the Kingdom

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

- Luke 23:50-56
I do what I can to avoid long lines, the DMV, and Bridge Street restaurants on a Friday night. Waiting is the worst. The legendary rocker, Tom Petty, sang it best, “The waiting is the hardest part,” and we sing along because we know it’s true: waiting is, indeed, the hardest part. That’s why patience is a virtue—because waiting doesn’t come easy. But as difficult as it is, we must learn the art of waiting through discipline and practice.

Joseph is described as someone waiting for the kingdom of God and someone who had not consented to their decision and action. These descriptors are not mutually exclusive; for Joseph, to wait on the kingdom of God meant not giving in to do away with Jesus.
While we wait, we often ask, “What can I do to speed this process up?” The religious leaders of the day, of which Joseph was a member, thought they could bring about the kingdom of God by their own righteous actions, while simultaneously eliminating the unrighteousness of others. Jesus, they declared, fit within this latter group, and was killed. But Joseph refused to give in to their short-sighted, evil schemes.

Waiting is hardly inaction. When Jesus died, something needed to be done with his body. Joseph, who is described as “wealthy” (Mt. 27:57), placed Jesus in a tomb cut from a rock and fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier. Ironically, what appears to be a rushed burial just before Sabbath, turns out to be an act that was assigned or appointed centuries earlier. In other words, God is not in a hurry. With Christ in the sealed tomb, many followers gave up hope, while others gave up control. Like a seed planted in the soil, they could only wait for God to bring about a resurrection harvest.

Beauty from ashes takes time. Don’t take matters into your own hands but wait patiently. You’re a work in progress! Godly waiting is almost always about sustaining hope while letting go of control.

- Jon Welch
Father, tomorrow we celebrate your resurrection. Help me wait on your kingdom. Help me do what I can.