May 17, 2021
- By Ed Powell
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"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus." John 19:38
Jesus had finished the work of redemption the Father had sent Him to do by shedding His blood for our sins. The giving of His life as the "spotless Lamb of God" satisfied the holiness, the righteousness, and the justice of God. Then He lifted up His voice and shouted, "IT IS FINISHED!" Our salvation and atonement were complete!
We see something very unusual taking place. In the moment when our Lord seems abandoned by all, except for a few women and the beloved disciple, when it would appear no one else showed any regard for Him, God raised up two men of eminence and distinction to take the leading role in preparing Jesus for His burial. Available and willing were Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.
JOSEPH OF ARIMATHAEA was rich, an honorable council member, just and good. Most important, he was a respected member of the ruling Jewish Sanhedrin! He had an entree to Pilate that none of the disciples had. Although he was a secret follower of Christ, he was used by God to gain favor with Pilate in claiming the body of Jesus. This is something that would not have happened, even if all of the disciples had appeared en masse before Pilate to make such a request. In that hour, Joseph of Arimathaea did what took ultimate courage: He went straight to Pilate and begged for the dead body of Jesus. This had to be offensive to the other members of the Jewish Council, to see one of their own ruling body paying funeral honors to Christ, whom only hours before they had condemned and crucified as a malefactor. God used the "improbable" to do the "impossible" as far as man was concerned.
Then there was NICODEMUS. A man of considerable distinction, he was a Pharisee, a member of the powerful Sanhedrin (just like Joseph of Arimathaea), a ruler and teacher in the synagogue, and a candid and honest man. He was also a secret disciple. We remember him as the one who went to Jesus by night. Together, the two men prepared the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathaea had brought the linen; Nicodemus brought one hundred pounds of myrrh, aloe, and other spices that they intermixed with the wrappings as they bound the body of Jesus. John said they buried Him "as the custom of the Jews is to bury." The Jews never mutilated a dead body; they wrapped it with spices and cloths, and finally in a winding sheet, a work of singular complexity.
It's interesting that God chose two distinguished, unheralded, secret disciples to be used in such a meaningful way, at such an important time following His crucifixion. None of the other disciples had given such thought to the One with whom they had spent three-and-a-half years, involved in His ministry, and under His teaching. Where are we when God sees a need and seeks someone to come forth and minister for Him? Whether great or small, rich or poor, God seeks those who are "available, willing, and filled with His Spirit of love and compassion" to bring His life to a thirsting, needy soul. Are you available for His use? Will you be used for His glory?
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2021-05-17
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