Easter Sermon Series ~ Station Eight: The Burial

 

Station Eight: The Burial

Matthew 27:50-60 ~ “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;   And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

 

So much is found in these verses, however, since we are wanting to look at how a change can occur in our lives, let’s look at Joseph of Arimathaea.

 

Joseph of Arimathaea: there was the reaction of a secret disciple. He was stirred to step forward for Christ. Several things are said about Joseph of Arimathaea that show the kind of man he was.

  • He was an honorable counsellor, that is, a member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43).
  • He was a good and just man (Luke 24:50).
  • He waited for the Kingdom of God (Mark 15:43).
  • He was rich (Matthew 27:57).
  • He did not vote for Jesus’ death when the Sanhedrin voted (Luke 23:51).
  • He was a disciple, but a secret disciple, fearing his fellow Jews (John 19:38).

 

It is this last fact that reveals a marked change in Joseph. Up until the death of Jesus, He had been a secret disciple. He had probably had several meetings with Christ when the Lord visited Jerusalem. But after the Lord’s death, he was no longer secret. He became bold.

Four acts show a remarkable boldness, a boldness that reveals the strength of Joseph’s discipleship.

  • Joseph actually marched in “boldly to Pilate” and requested the body of Jesus (Mark 15:43). This was a tremendous act of courage. The Romans either dumped the bodies of crucified criminals in the trash heaps or left the bodies hanging upon the cross for the vultures and animals to consume. The latter served as an example of criminal punishment to the public. Joseph also braved the threat of Pilate’s reaction, for Pilate was fed up with the Jesus matter. Jesus had proven to be very bothersome to Pilate. Pilate could have reacted severely against Joseph.
  • Joseph risked the disfavor and discipline of the Sanhedrin. They were the ruling body who had instigated and condemned Christ, and Joseph was a member of the council. Unquestionably, he would face some harsh reaction from some of his fellow Sanhedrin members and from some of his closest friends.
  • Joseph demonstrated a care, even an affection for Jesus by giving his own tomb for the burial of Jesus. This act alone would leave no question about his stand with Christ.
  • Joseph also eliminated himself from taking part in the great Passover Feast. This was just never done, even for the most serious reasons. Joseph, by handling Jesus’ body, was considered defiled for seven days for having come in contact with a corpse. Once defiled, Jewish law forbade a person from taking part in Jewish ceremonies.

 

The thing that turned Joseph from being a secret disciple to a bold disciple seems to be the phenomenal events surrounding the cross (the behavior and words of Christ, the darkness, the earthquake, and the torn veil). When Joseph witnessed all this, his mind connected the claims of Christ with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Joseph saw the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. He stepped forward and braved all risks: he took his stand with Christ. A remarkable courage! A courage stirred by the death of Christ.

 

Every secret believer needs to study the cross of Christ. Really seeing the cross will turn any secret believer into a bold witness for Christ.
 
 
Pastor Andy Lambert
{pastorandy@cvcog.church}

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