…Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes… John 19:38-39
Recently, I was talking to a friend who was very open about areas of weakness in his life, including how those areas have negatively impacted others, including his wife. He fully owned those things, and was actively seeking to cooperate with God in getting healing.
There are a lot of wonderful and glorious things about my friend, and God has used him greatly. Yet, he was also willing to talk freely about his weaknesses and brokenness.
The next day, I asked God about His perspective of our discussion. He showed me a picture of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit above us as my friend and I were talking, and they were dancing with joy and giving each other high-fives.
Then the Lord showed me that He was able to hold both the glorious parts of my friend and his broken parts. He was fully aware of his brokenness, and even the extent that other people have been hurt by those broken areas. AND, he was fully aware of all the good parts in him, and how many people were so positively impacted by them. As God looked at him, He was fully pleased with him, even while accepting his brokenness.
Then God told me that one of the reasons they were so joyful is that my friend was able to hold both his glory and brokenness at the same time as well, just as God did.
What I also know is that we cannot accept the brokenness of others until we can accept them in our own lives.
What struck me is that when there are broken areas of our lives, that does not make us all bad. Our brokenness does not negate that we are wondrously made in God’s image and we are full of God’s glory.
Who were Joseph and Nikodemus? They were both secret followers of Jesus, and lived in fear of what their peers on the Council would think of them. In The Chosen series, we see the scene of Jesus inviting Nikodemus to follow him, and the internal conflict raging inside of him, as his wife encouraged him to continue his comfortable and honorable life. He ended up taking the easy route and not accepting Jesus’ invitation to give up everything to follow him. That area of brokenness in his life—seeking the favor and praise of men—caused him to miss out on fully fulfilling the destiny God had for his life.
Yet, in Mark’s gospel, it says that Joseph gathered up his courage and asked Pilot for permission to take down Christ’s body and give him a proper burial. And his friend Nicodemus helped him. In the end, it was more important to them to care for Christ than caring about what others thought of them. They cleaned his body, smothering it with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, and put him in Joseph’s tomb.
What happened to the bodies of the other two men who were crucified? My guess is that the Romans dug a quick hole in the ground and piled their corpses in a heap to rot in an unmarked grave. If these two men would not have intervened, perhaps this would have happened to Jesus as well.
But the role of these two men was absolutely essential to God’s plan to rise Christ from the dead; to roll away the stone and attain to the resurrection victory over sin and death for all humanity.
Simultaneously, God held both the brokenness and glory of Joseph and Nikodemus. Their significant shortcoming of living in the fear of men did not disqualify them from playing a key role in God’s master plan to save the world.
If God is able to do that with these two men, can I accept my own brokenness? Can I accept the brokenness of others?