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Summary: In taking Jesus to His new tomb Joseph was fulfilling the prophecy of Isa. 53:9, which said, "Men made His grave with the criminals, and He was with the rich in His death."

The danger of making a hero out of a man who does a great thing

after a long time of doing nothing is that you give the impression that

there was nothing lost by doing it that way. A man lives a life of sin,

or of indifference to God's will, and suddenly he sees the light and is

wondrously converted. If he has been a well known sinner, or a

famous unbeliever, there is a tendency to make a great deal of it, and

make such a person an example. But there is often a failure to point

out what a great lost was suffered by his delayed decision. Some have

pointed out that it is of no credit to Paul that God had to beat him

down and blind him before he submitted to Christ.

Joseph of Arimathea became a hero by his last minute change

from cowardice to courage. But we want to point out something of

the loss he suffered by not making his decision earlier. We want to

look at 2 aspects of his experience and see the loss which he suffered,

and the love which he showed.

I. THE LOSS WHICH HE SUFFERED.

What is said here will not be taken as statements out of the text,

but as inferences from other passages of the Bible. First he suffered

loss because his discontent came to late for the greatest good. When

he stood before the cross he became thoroughly discontent with his

superficial secret discipleship. But this discontent should have

characterized his life from the start as a believer. Discontent is an

essential factor for effective Christian growth.

But didn't Paul say I have learned to be content in whatever state

I am. Yes, but Paul was speaking of being content with much or little,

with hard bed, in danger, or soft one in the home of a friend. He was

talking about being content with whatever life brought in his service

for Christ, whether it be good or bad. But when it came to the

spiritual, Paul was not content. Paul was as near perfect as we can

imagine, yet called himself chief of sinners, and cried out, "Oh

wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of

death." Paul was constantly pushing onward and upward trying to

apprehend that for which God had apprehended him. He was never

content to stop and be satisfied with where he was in his spiritual

growth.

If there is no discontent, there will be no drive to move ahead.

Contentment with one's spiritual life is a curse. It has been one of the

greatest curses in the history of the church, and was such also in

Judaism. Dead orthodoxy is the fruit of contentment. The Pharisees

were content with their system of salvation by works. That is why

they despise Jesus and wanted to kill Him. That is why the

established church has killed so many who were excited about doing

the will of God. Men like to get everything all wrapped up in a creed

and call that Christianity. This was the case with the state churches

of Europe. They were perfectly content to let the people live for the

devil just as long as they memorize the creed. But God raised up men

who would not be content with that kind of Christianity.

We need to be careful in our use of words like liberal. Remember

that the men who were the fathers of what we now call orthodoxy

were once the liberals. They were the discontented liberals who could

not stand dead orthodoxy, and so they rebelled. There needs to be

constant reformation, for the orthodox has a tendency to settle back

into contentment. It is only as we are constantly discontent that we

can keep orthodoxy alive. Whenever a Christian is content he is in

danger of backsliding, but a discontented Christian grows. We need

to distinguish, however, between discontent and discouragement.

Discouragement drags down, but discontent pushes us on.

I have said all this as background to explain what Joseph missed

by experiencing his discontent so late. If he had felt this all along,

there is no telling what he may have accomplished among the leaders

of Israel, and especially among those other secret disciples. If only

they had a leader who was discontent enough to speak out and

organize them. This is what Joseph lost-the honor of organizing a

band of disciples among the elite, and thereby winning many more to

Christ.

St. Augustine was one who lived long in sin before he came to Christ.

Once he said, "All too late have I loved thee." This was

Joseph's experience as well. What he did was great, but it was too

late for the greatest glory. Mary of Bethany demonstrates for us that

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