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Why?

On February 15, 1947 Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador, to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward.

Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter. All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word “WHY?” Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note. After Chambers’ mother learned of her son’s death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the question “WHY?”

No doubt this was the question Jesus’ disciples asked when He was arrested, tried, and crucified. And it was probably the question Joseph of Arimathea asked himself as he approached Pilate and requested the Lord’s body (v.58).

It must have nagged at him as he wrapped the body in a linen cloth, carried it to his own freshly hewn tomb, and rolled the massive stone into its groove over the tomb’s mouth.

In the face of his grief, Joseph carried on. He did what he knew he had to do. None of Jesus’ relatives were in a position to claim His body for burial, for they were all Galileans and none of them possessed a tomb in Jerusalem. The disciples weren’t around to help either.

But there was another reason for Joseph’s act of love. In Isaiah 53:9, God directed the prophet to record an important detail about the death of His Messiah. The One who had no place to lay His head would be buried in a rich man’s tomb.

Joseph probably didn’t realize that his act fulfilled prophecy. The full answer to the why of Jesus’ death was also several days away for Joseph and the others. All he knew was that he was now a disciple of Jesus—and that was enough to motivate his gift of love.

Today in the Word, April 18, 1992