Summary: Joseph of Arimathea (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 27 verse 11-26.
In A.D. 373John Chrysostom became a hermit;
• He went alone into the mountains near Antioch, seeking to know God better.
• Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness,
• He discovered that with God at his side,
• He could attend alone against anyone or anything.
• That experience served Chrysostom well.
• In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople.
• Where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia,
• Who had him exiled.
• After a period of time he was allowed to return once again to Constantinople.
• But yet again Chrysostom infuriated Eudoxia, who once again sent him away.
• Question: How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution?
• Answer: With these words:
• “What can I fear? Will it be death?
• But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death.
• Will it be exile?
• But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord’s.
• Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for;
• And from death I do not shrink.”
Unlike Chrysostom most of us do fear other people:
• Sometimes it is easier to ‘keep a low profile’ than to make a stand.
• True in lots of areas of life;
Quote: Robert Kennedy:
“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence, yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world”.
• ‘Keeping a low profile’ rather than making a stand.
• Can apply to lots of areas in life;
• But it is especially true, when it comes to making a stand for Christ!
• ‘To speak up or to keep quiet’ – that is the question!
• In our case study this morning we meet such a man:
• His name Joseph of Arimathea.
(1). A secret disciple.
• According to John’s account (chapter 19 verse 38) while Joseph of Arimathea,
• Was “a disciple of Jesus,” he was a secretly one.
• The reason for his fear is clearly stated “for fear of the Jews.”
• He allowed his fear to keep him from making his decision about Jesus to be made public.
• His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ;
• Even though he knew that his heart was telling him to do so.
• Question: What kind of fear was this that kept Joseph a secret disciple?
• Answer: we do not know if it was.....
• Fear for his own life, for his family or for his position?
• It’s not always easy to step up against the authorities.
• During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Krushchev,
• Denounced many of the policies and atrocities of his predecessor Joseph Stalin.
• Once, as he reproached Stalin in a public meeting,
• Krushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler, in the audience who said,
• “You were one of Stanlin colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?”
• “Who said that?” roared Krushchev.
• An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle.
• Then Krushchev, replied quietly, “Now you know why.”
Because he was gripped by fear, for awhile Joseph remained a “secret’ disciple.
• It is as if he is on the proverbial fence;
• Trying to keep a foot on each side.
• Most of us,
• If not all of us know exactly how he felt;
• We have all at some time blended in with everyone else;
• When we know that we should have taken a stand for Christ!
• Joseph, for as long as he could, kept his faith in Christ a secret;
• But there came a point in his life where that secret had to be shared!
• Joseph of Arimathea was a man who went from cowardness to courage.
• From fear of man to lover of Christ.
• A turning point came for Joseph when he had to make a decision regarding the body of Jesus;
• To see it rot or to see it honoured!
• In honouring Jesus by providing for him his own tomb:
• Joseph was unknowingly fulfilling the words of Isaiah the prophet (chapter 53 verse 9):
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death”
• Christ died with both the wicked i.e. the two criminals at Golgotha.
• And with the rich in his death, i.e. buried in the tomb of a wealthy man.
(2). A council member.
• He was a member of the Sanhedrin,