Picking Up The Pieces
Do you feel like you are usually right?
I think most of us do. We don’t go walking around saying to ourselves and other “Yeah, I’m wrong about that.”
I mean can you imagine. Just think about it. Your employs ask: should we increase our stock? Yes, you say. Should we hire some new staff? Absolutely. Should we remodel our facility? Definitely! Wow! Are you sure you are right about all that? Oh, no, I’m definitely wrong about all that!
No, if you’re like me, you have thought through things, had life experiences, and come to conclusions that you think are right. You make decisions based on what you think is right.
Now, be honest, do you think that you are right most of the time?
Yeah, me too. So, there is a really important corrective to this problem of thinking we are right. It’s called marriage!
Let me explain. My kids seems to always be dealing with something that makes them feel bad. And I usually brush things aside. Lacey will be quietly listening to music on my iPad with an earbud. Joanie walks in and says “Lacey’s pulling on her ear. I think she has an ear infection.” And I say, “Joanie, she’s just holding an earbud to her ear.”
The next day we’re outside and there’s gnats everywhere. I’m swatting them. Joanie is swatting them. Lacey starts swatting them. And Joanie’s says, “Look she’s pulling at her ear again. I really think she has an ear infection.” And, of course, I’m like, “There’s gnats everywhere! Are you kidding me?”
So later, Lacey is taking a nap. And she is in this position where she has her stuffed animal in one hand and her other hand up to her ear. And Joanie says, “See there it is again. She’s holding her ear.” And I’m thinking, “Really? I mean just just sleeping. It’s not like she crying and rubbing her ear.” But Joanie keeps bringing it up and so I finally give in: “If it’ll make you feel better, just take her to the doctor.”
So, she goes to the doctor. And on the way home from the appointment, Joanie calls me. She goes on and on about running errands and picking the other girls up. But she says nothing about the doctor appointment. So I’m thinking, “Yep, see I was right and she’s too embarrassed to admit she was wrong.” And I slyly ask, “Sooooo…what did the doctor say.”
“Oh she has an ear infection. I’m picking up the medicine now.”
I’m exclaim, “WHAT? You gotta be kidding?”
“No, the doctor looked and her ear was inflamed. I told you I thought she had an hear infection. Sorry, next time I’ll try not to be so right!”
And this is this what marriage relationship is about. Some of us are right. And the rest of us are husbands.
Today, we’re looking at a story about being right, but not being heard. Being right, but being out voted. Being right, but being vetoed. And it’s another one of these great stories we have kinda half heard.
Do you remember Joseph of Arimathea? What did he do?
Asked Pilate for Jesus’ body, retrieved the body, and gave the tomb for Jesus to be buried.
Yeah, that’s what we typically remember about Joseph. We remember what he did for Jesus after his death. But there’s another piece to this story. It’s what Joseph tried to do before Jesus’ death. Let’s look to Luke 23:44-56.
So Jesus has just died, just exclaimed, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” breathed his last breath. And scripture tells us that people realized what they had done. After witnessing it all one of the soldiers exclaims: “This man was good and innocent!” Everyone who had been watching realized this too and they were overcome with grief. Then we read this:
There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.
The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.
So what do you hear in this story? Tell me about Joseph. What does the story say about him?
Some notes about Joseph:
- Member of Jewish High Council
- Good heart
- Good character
- Disagreed with high council; didn’t go along with them
- Expected the coming of the kingdom of God
Joseph was the dissenting voice of the Supreme Court. He disagreed, but somehow he didn’t to convince the others. Did he try…and fail? Or was he simply in silent opposition? Maybe he mounted a great lobby to persuade the others, and maybe those tremendous efforts failed. Or maybe he just sat back and let the cards fall as they would.
All we know is that Joseph was not in agreement with the rest of the high council and that he was a good man. He was right – like Joanie was right – and yet no one listened – like I didn’t listen. No one heard him. No one followed him. He was on the side of justice and righteousness. And yet he lost.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever been right, but also the minority? Have you ever fought for what is right against popular opinion?
Or maybe you’ve been on the other side…you’ve agreed it’s popular opinion. You’ve agreed with the majority, but in hindsight you were all wrong? Maybe you were the one to call the shots and you failed to listen to the voice of someone who was right. (Kinda like me with Joanie and my sick children) Maybe you didn’t take someone seriously enough? Maybe your perspective told you something really important, but it wasn’t broad enough to see what was right.
Maybe it’s something minor like which way to go when you are lost. Or maybe it’s more significant like a sick child. Or maybe it’s a question that is so crucial, so life altering that your answer could fundamentally change the course of the entire world. A question like this: Can a man can ever be right? (Haha!)
Whether you are right or wrong, whether you are right but no one else agree – like Joseph- or whether you are just wrong despite all the evidence that informs your perspective – like me – one thing is certain:
Right or wrong, regardless of the outcome, we all have to pick up the pieces – just like Joseph did.
And that might be the most amazing part of this story. That in spite of being right, Joseph does not gloat. He doesn’t say I told you so. He doesn’t rage against the council. He doesn’t take them all back to court to charge their wrongdoing. And he certainly doesn’t jokingly remark, “I’ll try not to be so right next time.”
Instead, Joseph does something good, something that is about integrity, something that shows forth his heart and his character. He pick up the pieces of a tragedy. He picks up the now lifeless body of Jesus and offers an honorable place for burial. He ensures that Jesus’ body isn’t just thrown away like other criminals. He gives Jesus an expensive, honorable burial fit for someone very important.
Joseph shows us what character is, what being good means. Joseph shows us how not just to be right but how to be righteous.
Sure he was right with his vote on the high council. And everyone else was wrong. But what makes Joseph a true hero of scripture is that he rolls up his sleeves and says,
I don’t want to just BE right. I want to try to make things right because picking up the pieces is way better than leaving things the way they are.
Picking up the pieces is way better than leaving things the way they are. Whether right or wrong, we all have to turn the page in the book of our life and move forward. We have to work not just to be right, but to make things right. We have to be about joining God in his work to make creation good. Joseph does this in the worst of tragedies. And you can, too…no matter what life throws at you.
May each of us have the courage to pick up the pieces in our own lives. To move forward whether right or wrong. To pick up the pieces and do what is good. Amen.
October 14, 2018
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