Summary: Eleventh in a 12 part series examining THE most important week in all of history: The Passion Week, when Jesus fulfilled Mark 10:45. The Servant Finishes - His Burial. Joseph's treatment of our beloved Lord & Savior has much to teach us.
The Passion Week of Christ: A Study from the Book of Mark
Week 11: The Servant Finishes - His Burial
A. Have you ever passed a funeral home, saw the parking lot overflowing, and thought "Wow, who died?" - they must have been important? Take the following: Babe Ruth (75k came to The House that Ruth Built), Rudolph Valentino (100k mourners & the line stretched 11 NY city blocks), Michael Jackson (1.6 million entered lottery to win 1 of 17,500 tickets which sold for $10k on EBay), Princess Diana (4 mile funeral procession, coffin passed 1 million people, 2.5 billion watched on TV).
B. Rewind to 30 A.D. A King has been crucified on a Hill called Calvary. His name is Jesus. His broken, bloody body hangs lifeless and dead. The crowds depart, beating their breasts in remorse and anguish. His mother, Mary, and beloved disciple, John, leave the scene utterly heartbroken. The soldiers are preparing to leave. It is a sad scene of death, pain, sorrow, aynd anguish. Perhaps the saddest aspect - neither 10s nor 100s of thousands, nor millions stand in line to pay their respects to the King of Kings. In the end, out of all the people who passed by that Good Friday as Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many, only one man remained. Only one man was willing to identify himself with the Lord Jesus. He alone was willing to claim and minister to the body of our Lord. It is this man that we want to consider together today. His name is Joseph of Arimathea and 2000 years after he prepared our Lord's body "according to the burial custom of the Jews," he has much to teach us about our own treatment of our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Stand with me to honor the reading of God's Word. Read Mark 15:42-47.
B. Pray - Father, our hearts are heavy this AM as we reflect on that day that our Lord, your Son, was buried. Yet we know whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction and so we ask you to teach us invaluable lessons that we, like Joseph, may have courage to serve you in these last days.
III. Joseph of Arimathea: Beholden to the World (v.43a)
A. The first thing I would have us to consider is that much good could have been said, and indeed is recorded in Scripture, about Joseph. He was...
#1 Prominent: ESV = "respected," KJV = "honourable." Greek = "euschemon" lit. "good figure," Koine Greek = person who properly uses influence, esp. serving in high (respected) position; outward godliness, being winsome.
#2 Prestigious: member of the Council - aka Sanhedrin, this was THE supreme religious body in the Land of Israel. 70 members, appointed for life. This no doubt carried with it a certain amount of influence and respect.
#3 Pious: Mark tells us Joseph was in tune with spiritual things - who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God = "looking," Greek "prosdechomai," meaning ready & willing to receive all that is hoped for, always in the middle voice = high level of personal involvement. Luke adds - read Luke 23:50-51. He was good & righteous; He was unwilling to lie, to condemn an innocent man, Jesus. He practiced what he preached.
#4 Prosperous: Matthew's contribution to the picture of Joseph is that he was a rich man. We know this from the amount of burial spices he and Nicodemus used to embalm our Lord; we know this from the sheer size of the stone rolled in front of our Lord's tomb, which Joseph provided. In the economy of that day, this would have marked Joseph as a man blessed by God.
#5 Pursuing: Both Matthew and John tell us that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. We don't know the specifics but at some point in Jesus' ministry, he began to not only take an interest in but also follow Jesus. As such, he had a very real share in writing the Gospel story - think about it....where did all the info about the trial before the Sanhedrin come from? None of the disciples were there! Must have come from some member of the Sanhedrin, probably Joseph! As we consider all of these aspects of the character of Joseph, most all of us would likely say "THAT'S the kind of guy we want in our church," yet like most people in churches today something was affecting his walk with the Lord.
B. Despite all this good, we read of at least one miscoming of Joseph - F-E-A-R! Only John writes that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but secretly because of his fear of the Jews. After listening to Stephen Tuesday night I think we can understand why. Explain for those not there. He had much to lose from identifying and associating with Jesus, and so he held onto the world tighter than he did Jesus. He allowed FEAR to cripple him, at least for a time.