• Post comments:0 Comments

Jesus gave up His Spirit and died upon the cross around 3 pm on Thursday of Passion week.  A supernatural darkness had come over the land as He was raised upon the cross; how much darker ought it to have become now that He had died?  But no, as He died the darkness was overcome by the light of the truth that shines even through death, especially through death; Jdg 7:16,19-202Co 4:6-11Joh 1:5.  Looking on from a distance, His acquaintances and many women who had followed Him from Galilee could see that He was dead.  The crowds too that had come together for the spectacle began to return, seeing that He was dead, and beating their breasts that such a thing had happened (Luk 23:48).  Before He had died, perhaps their faith in Him that He was the promised Messiah had given them hope that somehow God would yet rescue Him, perhaps by sending Elijah the prophet whom they believed would herald the messianic age as His forerunner.  But now that He was dead that hope quickly faded away and was replaced with the more practical reality of what would happen to His body?  What should they do?  What could they do?  Their anxious thoughts would have spread among His followers, and perhaps were the motivation to act for one whom God had already over seven centuries earlier sovereignly set apart for that hour.  Is it possible that there are things at appointed times for which God has set us apart, perhaps even long ago as part of His sovereign plan to establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?

Who does Scripture reveal that God had set apart for that hour, and what does Mark’s account indicate about it not being an easy thing for him to do?  See Mar 15:42-43.  What would Joseph have had to fear so that he needed to gather up the courage to act?  Are we as willing to do likewise when we sense God is calling us to act, but at the same time fear for our reputation or well-being?  Where do all four gospels note that Joseph was from?  Where is Arimathea?  Note that the name Arimathea is likely a variation of Armathaim that was the name used in the LXX for Ramah, itself a shortened version of Ramathaim-zophim, where Samuel was born and lived most of his life; see 1Sa 1:1,32:1125:1.  Ramah / Arimathea is located approximately five miles north of Jerusalem, which would have situated Joseph close enough to the seat of Jewish governance to become a respected member of the Sanhedrin and to have a tomb dug for himself just outside the holy city.  It is quite possible that he was absent from the hastily called trial of Jesus very early that morning because his home was a distance from Jerusalem.

How does Matthew describe Joseph?  See Mat 27:57.  What is the significance that he was rich?  See Isa 53:9 and recall from our previous study that a hewn tomb in the vicinity of Jerusalem would have been quite expensive, and yet, unlike the unmarked mass grave at the city dump where the corpses of condemned criminals would typically be disposed of, would prove essential to establish the fact of the resurrection three days later.  How does Mark describe Joseph?  See Mar 15:43.  What does the fact that he was a prominent (respected, honorable, highly regarded) member of the council indicate about there being pockets of dissent among the Jewish leadership in regard to Jesus, even as there are today among our own political leaders?  What else do we learn about Joseph from Luke?  See Luk 23:50-51.  In a history of our own lives, would others describe us as good and righteous?  Matthew noted that Joseph had become a disciple of Jesus (Mat 27:57); how does John clarify that?  See Joh 19:38.  Why does John say that he was a secret disciple of Jesus, and how does that help us to better understand why he had to gather up courage to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body to give it a decent burial?  Cf. Joh 12:42 and think: how would asking for Jesus’ body publicly reveal his sentiments toward Jesus and thus expose him to the political backlash of those who had just condemned and had Him put to death?  What does his wealth and political connections remind us about there being no station of life that is free from temptations, trials and the difficulties of choosing to walk righteously?  How much more noble were his actions considering that to his mind there was nothing but reproach to be gained for doing so since Jesus was now dead?  Are we as willing to subject ourselves to reproach by choosing to do what is good and right even though it is unpopular and we have nothing in this world to gain from it?  Cf. Heb 11:24-26.

What significant expectation do both Mark and Luke note about Joseph?  See Mar 15:43Luk 23:51.  Do we as anxiously await God’s righteous kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?  Cf. Luk 2:25,38.  In what way did Joseph’s expectation actually allow him to be a part in fulfilling that for which he was awaiting?  Think: if he had not had the true faith of Moses that was looking beyond the things of this world, would he have been motivated to act as he did?  What then would have happened to Jesus’ body, and with what implications for establishing the fact of the resurrection?  Jesus brought the kingdom of God down to earth through His death upon the cross; is it safe to say that Joseph would not have recognized it as such at the time?  What does this remind us about the importance of always choosing to do right, regardless of the cost, regardless of whether we suppose we stand to gain from it or not, and regardless of whether or not we suppose it will make any difference to God’s kingdom?

Leave a Reply