“…a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.” – Matthew 27:57
” …Joseph of Arimathea, a respected (prominent) member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God…” – Mark 15:43
“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action (deed); and he was looking for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 23:50-51
“…Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away His body.
(BONUS: Nicodemus!) Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” – John 19:38-40
Putting it all together: Joseph was from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a rich man, good, righteous and just; He was a respected, prominent member of the council, who was looking and waiting for the Kingdom of God. He was also a disciple of Jesus, though in secret, for fear of the Jews.
To clarify, “Waiting for the Kingdom of God”; rephrased “The consolation of Israel”, or “The redemption of Jerusalem”, this was prophesied in Isaiah 40:1 & 57:18, and the prevalent assumption in the day was that this was the liberation of the nation of Israel from the Romans.
Also, John 9:22b is only one example of why it wasn’t necessarily practical to come out and say Christ is who He says He is: “…if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.” I could imagine, for a Jew to be taken out of the literal community of Jews in an area would mean that he was cut off of a lifeline, and in danger of persecution from other people-groups, or scrutiny by the Romans, who probably knew most of them were seeking freedom.
It was therefore a big thing for them to approach Jesus at night, or to do what they needed to do in secret. It seems like only John spoke of Nicodemus’ involvement. Not sure if that meant anything. I guess the other disciples knew. Or not. In any case, I’m glad John at least mentioned it. Bringing 75 pounds of anything isn’t a joke.
I say all this, not to glorify Joseph or Nicodemus, but to point out that Joseph WAS a disciple of Christ, but all we know about what he did was to offer his tomb for Christ’s body to lay in. Pretty sure he wasn’t expecting that his lot sale would turn into a 3-day lease. But again, that’s all he did, to have Christ’s body in his tomb. And even then, he technically got it back after the resurrection.
The point of me writing about these folks – well, Joseph of Arimathea in particular – is just to say that it is counterproductive for Christians to pressure each other to do good, be good, or to show good.
We pressure each other to do good works – we take one verse from the Bible and pressure people that faith without works is dead. We tell people how we trust Christ to help us, but on the other hand we indirectly insist that we can bend reality by means of speaking shallow declarations and pinning ‘in Jesus’ Name’ in the end of every statement.
We encourage people about the matchless grace of Jesus on one hand, but on the other hand we tell people that we need to maintain our standing with God, because of a supposed day of reckoning or ‘second judgment’ (more on this some other time).
We sing ‘To God be the Glory,’ but we preach that we own the power and responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer and the importance of praying without ceasing – it is, after all, the will of God for us in Jesus Christ, along with rejoicing and giving thanks.
I believe that by the finished work of Christ, we are made one with God, as the prodigal son embraced by the father who lavishes him with love.
What I DON’T believe is that we have the power of the infinite God in that we can also speak forth light, and stars and moons and the sun would pop up (again).
I DON’T believe you can speak forth riches, and instantaneous healing, and a mansion and a sports car, and you’re guaranteed to have them. You can want these things, you can ask your Father for them, and leave it at that, out of knowing that Christ is literally all we would ever need and want, ever. But you can’t possibly think that if stomp the floor and scream ‘IN JESUS’ NAME’ enough times, you can EXPECT a Lamborghini with your crush in the passenger seat.
I believe in Christ’s finished work guaranteeing our eternal union with the Living God. I believe that Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and in Him we live and move and have our being. I DON’T believe that we’re Christ clones, or little Gods. We’re UNITED with God and this doesn’t mean we ARE God.
It’s counterproductive for us to pressure each other to produce only what Christ produces in and through us. This has us looking like branches trying to force the power of the Vine out of each other. We need to understand God’s place as unlimited CREATOR, our place as limited CREATIONS. We need to understand Christ’s finished work did not MAKE us CREATORS, but reconciled us to the CREATOR.
I believe that as Creations we simply cannot handle and assume full responsibility over the infinite and eternal! God forbid! No, as of this writing I still think that what’s best for us is to know that we have been reunited with the Infinite and Eternal God.
The writer of the book of Hebrews proclaims that we can come boldly to the throne of Grace. I don’t see anywhere that we can sit on it. What’s best for us is to TRUST GOD, and to encourage each other to TRUST GOD. It is beyond sufficient for us to remind each other that by Christ, we have been made good. If we aren’t producing good, then we need to be reminded of this. Always.
God is no respecter of men. In other words, He does not recognize rank, achievement, bloodline, lineage, or any other sort of system we’ve developed for ourselves to see who’s better than who. Christ loved us all equally, with the greatest love of all; we’re all His favorites. Only He could do that.
I like what Dr. Andrew Farley said when he said that He loves, say, a septic tank cleaner just as much as Billy Graham. I dare say that Christ lovingly died for the most evil and twisted criminal, just as much as He did for, say, the Pope. Or Trump. Or Duterte. Or Biden. Or Pelosi. Or the Republicans. Or the Democrats. Or the Liberal Party.
In church circles, we would do well to remember that Christ died for the mighty man of miracles just as much as He died and rose again for the prostitute who, by faith, opened the door for a couple of spies.
Friends, it is this perfect love that casts out all fear, and it is this perfect love that produces the fruit in and through us. We do what we do, not FOR love, but FROM love.
And if all it boils down to us being remembered just for offering our burial plot, and then having a body buried, only for it to be buried for 3 days, and to be never heard of again, then so be it.
God bless you. I pray you are well throughout this Quarantine.