“If I perish I perish”

By Jeff Russell

Mark 15:43-46 -Matthew 27:57-60 - John 19:38-42 - Luke 23:50-53

For the past week I have been writing and reading many different devotions having to do with Good Friday and the Resurrection. Interestingly enough I found many things regarding Good Friday and the Resurrection but when it came to Saturday, that day in between, not so much! Some celebrate it as a day of silence. Some call it a time to reflect. I’m not so sure that’s what happened in the first century! As a matter fact, Saul was breathing threats as he traveled around getting the proper paperwork together so he could arrest any who were “Of The Way” and put them to death. The disciples had all fled!. The only ones who celebrated, we're the ones who put him to death.

On the surface the story of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea seem like two very normal guys. But as we look further we see they are far from normal. These two men were going through so much. The last thing that Nikodemus and Joseph wanted to do was draw attention to themselves, let me explain.
 Jesus himself referred to Nikodemus as the teacher of all of Israel, and scripture tells us that Joseph of Arimathea is an honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.  And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher. Mark 15:43-46 (KJV)
 
I admit, I am intrigued with Joseph And Nikodemus. Actually, if you don't read all the accounts you will not get the real picture. One thing I love is that all four writers of the Gospels spent time discussing this two and their part in the burial of the body of Jesus in the tomb. What can we learn from their example in the Gospels? First of all, all four Gospels show that although Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, he was a believer in Christ. Mark and Luke mentioned with subtlety that Joseph was looking forward to the kingdom, but Matthew put it even more bluntly, that Joseph “had become a disciple of Jesus” (Matt. 27:57). It was John that added a little more detail, telling his readers that while Joseph was a disciple, he was one secretly for fear of the Jews. In the original language the word fear in the text means, TERROR, TREMBLING, ALARM, FRIGHT, and PANIC.

Yet when the time came, Joseph and his friend acted in a way that made his faith public. Luke wrote in his Gospel that Joseph disagreed with the Sanhedrin on their attempt to do away with Jesus, but that opposition alone might not have fully exposed him as a disciple of Jesus.

However, there was no doubting his allegiance when he and Nikodemus boldly went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. The request was astonishing because they stood to lose everything, wealth (Matt.27:57), influence as members of the Sanhedrin, their reputations, and even their very lives. Yet regardless of the cost, Joseph (along with Nikodemus) took Jesus off the cross, wrapped him in spices, and buried him in a freshly cut tomb. their secret was out. There was no turning back. They were now known as followers of Christ. (If I perish I perish)

What can we learn from the example of Joseph And his friend?

  1. Don’t follow the crowd. Joseph had a faith in Jesus and was considered a disciple. This happened despite his being a member of the Sanhedrin, who were, as a group, bitterly opposed to Christ. However, Joseph held to his belief in Jesus and had a faith in Him despite his surroundings. And what can I say, Nikodemus wasn't along for the ride! He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred-pound weight. He too will be known as a follower of Christ.
  2. Follow Jesus. We don’t know how vocal Joseph was in his opposition to the Sanhedrin regarding their actions toward Jesus, but he was against their plan. However, we do know for sure that Joseph risked everything in asking Pilate for the body of Jesus. Jesus said in Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it.
  3. ”Trust in His timing. Neither Nikodemus or Joseph had any idea the days or weeks before the crucifixion that they would be able to honor Jesus’ body by burying Him according to custom. Yet when the time came, they stepped out in faith. While Jesus’ twelve disciples were scattered, Joseph and Nikodemus were in the right position, the right place, and acted at just the right time.

You might be in the right place at the right time to act for the cause of Christ. It might come today or even next week, but the main point is, take courage, and be ready. For Joseph, and Nicodemus the opportunity arrived, and together they stepped out. What opportunities await you?

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