Going All-In

“And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”  Luke 23:50-56Luke 23:50-56
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.  

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Pastor Leahy of Asheville Bible Church today continued his excellent teachings from Luke 23, focusing on four aspects of Christian character as displayed by Joseph of Arimathaea in his actions following Jesus’ death on the Cross. (Click on the links to hear the message via Sermon Audio!) Lots of great stuff in there, and I again encourage everyone to give it your attention.

One of the points Pastor Leahy makes is that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but was secretly so, out of fear. (John 19:38John 19:38
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38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.  

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.) Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, that 70-man ruling body that was to anoint the King but which instead condemned him (though we also see in Luke 23:51Luke 23:51
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51 he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.  

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that Joseph did not consent to the conviction and execution of Jesus.)

Though he was secret and fearful of being identified with Christ; yet still Joseph goes and begs the body of Jesus for burial from Pilate. As Pastor Leahy points out, this would be Big News – the whole town would know that the “honorable” Joseph had himself tended to the burial of Jesus. It would be a disgrace, a scandal, and certainly come at a cost for Joseph and indeed his family. Yet all the same, Joseph stood and was counted as a disciple of Christ.

(Really, you need to hear this sermon.)

Some Jewish perspective may help us more fully appreciate Joseph’s example of what it means to live for Christ.

First, Joseph was an esteemed member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Temple – that same body which sentenced Jesus to death for blasphemy. Joseph being counted as Christian was political suicide. Yet Joseph goes and asks the body of Jesus from Pilate – the one who had just executed Jesus (after rendering an official ruling that Christ was King of the Jews: John 19:13-14John 19:13-14
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13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!  

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Second, it was the Day of Preparation (Luke 23:54Luke 23:54
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54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.  

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) – the day before the Sabbath which occurred during the Passover. The Passover was the annual oblation when all Israel made sacrifice for forgiveness of sins, led by the High Priest. To be ritually impure meant you could not enter the temple grounds – and thus, could not receive forgiveness for the entire year. It was such a concern that the High Priest himself refused to enter Pilate’s compound, because a Jew entering the home of a Gentile rendered him unclean for a week. (John 18:28John 18:28
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28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. the hall...: or, house of Pilate  

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) An impure Jew could not eat of the sacrifice.

Yet Joseph *himself* “begged the body of Jesus; and he took it down.” (Luke 23:52-53Luke 23:52-53
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52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  

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; cf John 19:38John 19:38
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.  

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, Mark 15:46Mark 15:46
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46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.  

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, Matthew 27:59Matthew 27:59
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59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  

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Touching a corpse not only rendered one ritually impure for (at least) a week, but was also put out from the camp for seven days – and any who touched him was rendered impure until sundown.

Joseph – that “honorable” leader in the Sanhedrin – would be excluded from the Temple because he and his whole family are ritually unclean.

Thirdly, Joseph meets with Nicodemus, who himself has joined in sharing the same disgrace and impurity by bringing:

a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight;

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:39-40John 19:39-40
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39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.  

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A side note here about myrrh.

Myrrh is the aromatic resin of a small thorny tree. It was extremely valuable, both as a fragrant oil and also as a painkiller. (Mark 15:23Mark 15:23
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23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.  

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.) The plant was cut and the sap would bleed out in small beads, and then harden. These small clumps were allowed to dehyrdrate down to the essential oils and then crushed into powder.

This powder was worth more than gold.

Nicodemus bought “about an hundred pound weight.”

Gold closed on Friday at $1,254.10 an ounce.

There are 16 ounces to a pound.

Assuming myrrh and gold were trading equally…

…this means that Nicodemus’ offering was worth $2,006,400.00 in today’s money.

What do you think will happen to Nicodemus when his colleagues in the Sanhedrin hear of that most honorable burial which he has accorded the body of Christ?

Thirdly, we see in Luke 23:53Luke 23:53
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53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  

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that Joseph and Nicodemus have lain the body of Jesus in a new sepulchre.

Why does this matter? Because this is prime real estate.

Jews to this day bury their corpses facing East, so that when YHVH sends the Messiah and raises up all of Israel, they will be facing Him when they rise.

Jews, then and now, believed that the Resurrection would begin at the Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, a burial spot within sight of the Temple – and therefore, within sight of the Messiah – was highly prized.

A new tomb, undefiled and pure, would have been very, very costly to purchase and have built. Only rich men can afford such things. (Isaiah 53:9Isaiah 53:9
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9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. death: Heb. deaths  

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We see in Matthew 27:60Matthew 27:60
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60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.  

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that this new tomb belongs to none other than Joseph himself.

Now, knowing this…

…Consider again the sacrifice of Joseph and Nicodemus.

The High Priest’s faction has wielded influence sufficient to have Jesus arrested, illegally convicted, and put to death –

– yet two of Christ’s ones – of that same faction! – step out and approach the one who applied the death sentence,

– and beg official permission to tend to the burial of the body,

– rendering themselves ritually unclean –

– not for a week, mind you, but for an entire YEAR – because they would not be able to eat the Passover –

– which would cost them their offices

– and their livelihoods,

– and put their wives and children into disrepute.

“Thank G-d we might at least sell the sepulcher and use the funds to move back home,” says Joseph’s wife, but;

“Not so, my wife,” he answers, “for Nicodemus and I have used that same tomb to bury Him in.”

“No Jew will risk disgrace by sharing repose with such as Him,’ she cries! “Fools! Both of you, fools! You have flooded us all in dishonor!”

 

While all the disciples cringe fearfully in a room,

and only His mother and the Galilean women would stand by Him, weeping “Who shall tend to Him and anoint Him and offer up prayers over Him?” (because women were not allowed to hold a burial service,)

out come Joseph and Nicodemus,

sacrificing their purity

and their reputations

and their wealth

and their livelihoods

and their futures

all to accord glory and honor to Christ.

 

As Pastor Leahy asked today:

“What have *you* done, O Christian, to show care and respectful treatment to the Body of Christ?”

Nicodemus hid in the darkness once. Joseph kept silent for fear.

Yet, when all others were fled, they stepped out in faith and were granted the high honor of attending Him while He had given all for us.

Are we prepared to make such sacrifice for Him?

And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31Mark 10:29-31
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29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.  

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