Summary: An Easter monologue encouraging boldness for Christ.
DATE: April 15, 2001 Easter Morning
TEXT: John 19:38-41
TOPIC: Joseph of Arimathea
PURPOSE: Encourage boldness for Christ
Copyright 2001, William A. Groover Jr.
I am Joseph Ben Abijah, Pharisee and member of the ruling Sanhedrin from the town of Arimathea. Or at least I was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. Today I don’t know what they will do with me, or what I will do with them. Let me tell you my story.
My father before me, Abijah Ben Samuel, was a Rabbi in the village of Arimathea. Arimathea is a small villege about twenty miles northwest of Jerusalem, as the crow flies. But, alas, though I have been called an old crow, I do not fly like one, and the mountain roads get longer each time I walk them.
My father, bless his memory, raised me with every advantage he could give a son, and I, too, was groomed from birth to be a Priest. But not just any Priest. It was my father’s ambition for me, and my ambition from a very early age, to be a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. To be a Priest among Rabbis. To be a keeper of the Torah—the Law of Israel.
During my lifetime the Torah took on tremendous importance. Our country had been conquered by many nations, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and now we were under submission to Rome. We longed for our freedom and independence. The LORD, Adonai Elohim, had promised to send a deliverer, a Messiah, to restore the throne of David. And we believed that the LORD would keep this promise if the entire nation of Israel could keep the Sabbath holy just one time. If no Jew in our country worked on one Sabbath, if no Jew broke any law on one Sabbath, Messiah would come!
Thus when anyone claimed to be the Messiah, or to know of him coming, we were naturally interested.
About four years ago Messianic expectations were heightened by an itenerant preacher from Judea, a man named John Ben Zechariah. We called him the Baptizer because he was calling people to repent and be baptized before the Messiah came and the Kingdom of God arrived.
But when he displayed his utter lack of respect for his superiors and dared to say WE were sinners, we knew—he could NOT be the messenger who was to come before Messiah.
About a year later we began to hear of another traveling preacher, a self-proclaimed rabbi named Yeshua Ben Yosef, Jesus Son of Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee. It was reported that he performed miracles and healed people. As part of our religious and professional responsibilities, we were interested. We were the true guardians of the faith and teachers of Israel. Any religious message proclaimed in Judea had to come under our scrutiny. So we listened.
Some of the teachings of this Jesus were innocent enough. “Love your enemy. Do good to him who hates you.” There was much with which to credit him. And try as we might, we could not disprove any of his miracles. Nonetheless he was a serious threat to all for which we stood. This Jesus was a repeated Sabbath breaker. He and his followers traveled on the Sabbath, and they went into a wheat field and harvested grains of wheat to eat. He even healed a woman on the Sabbath—right in front of a TRUE rabbi in a synagogue! It was as though he wanted to flaunt his disrespect for Torah right in our faces.