1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

II. Joseph of Arimathaea and the Body of Christ, Mark 15:42-47

 

Today we will begin a short series in the Gospel of Mark in order to complete a series that was taught by Dr. Hobbs starting on 1 Feb 1989 and ending on 8 April 1990 almost 25 years ago.

 

I donít know when recording of our Pastorís sermons was begun but we have a vast number of cassette tapes of sermons going back many years and many of them have been placed on-line available to hear on our website, gracebiblechurchmilton.com. 

 

Our audio expert, has been for several years transferring Dr. Hobbs, tape cassettes of his Mark series into mp3 files suitable for uploading on our web site,

 

She has completed 96 messages however the messages for the last portion of Chapter 15 and all of Chapter 16 have come up missing. 

 

With the approval of our Pastor she has asked me to complete his series by teaching these chapters in our Sunday School class and after asking our Lord for guidance I believe it is the right thing to do in order for the full book of Mark to be online. 

 

So let us hear the closing words of message 96 by Dr. Hobbs and pick up where he left off for in this short part he introduces us to Joseph of Arimathaea.

 

Play Dr. Hobbs 96th Mark message starting at 42:34 minutes to the end at 43:05

 

Mark 15:42-47, And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 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. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

 

Mark, along with the other three Gospel writers, introduces us to a man, named Joseph and with that name he adds as was done commonly, the town from which he came. 

 

This Joseph appears in the scriptures without prior introduction, he does what he is appointed to do, and then he disappears from the scene as far as the Biblical record is concerned.

 

The Gospel of Matthew tells us Joseph was a rich man who was also Jesusí disciple.

 

Matthew tells us that the tomb in which he laid Jesus was a new tomb, it was a tomb owned by himself and it was carved out of the rock.

 

From this we can infer that Jerusalem was where he lived, with Arimathaea being the town of his birth, for he intended to be buried there and not in his hometown.

 

Mark calls him an honorable counselor and a man who waited for the kingdom of God. 

 

In todayís parlance he would be called a statesman which is one who proposes the doing of right rather than that which is partisan.

 

As we know from observing our congress, statesmen are few and far between so Joseph was unique.

 

Luke tells us that Joseph was a good man and just.

 

He proved his goodness of heart, his fairness and honesty, by not consenting to the decision and action against Jesus by the governing counsel which was called the Sanhedrin.

 

Luke also tells us that Joseph waited for the kingdom of God.

 

This waiting was in concert with the message of Christ and apparently Christís message found a place in Josephís heart.

In our Mark passage we learn that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but John in his Gospel tells us that this allegiance was kept secret for fear of the Jews.

John also tells us that another man, a man whom we have previously met in the 3rd chapter of John, the man who came to Jesus by night, the man named Nicodemus, helped him with the burial of Jesus Christ.

John 19:39,40, 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.

 

Luke uses the word "behold" in introducing us to Joseph of Arimathaea because this is an astounding scenario of events.

 

When you see that word it is placed there to make our minds perk up with questions.

 

It is obvious that these two men, Joseph and Nicodemus were given this task by God.

 

God the Father wanted his Son to be buried in a certain place and in a manner which He could use to properly announce the resurrection of his Son, Jesus the Christ.

 

Little did Joseph know how temporary the use of his tomb would be? 

 

I wonder if Joseph was eventually buried there?

 

But it was well known that, according to Roman law, those condemned to death had no right to be buried.

 

The body of Jesus, the crucified, normally would have been disposed of as were the bodies of the other two men who were crucified along with Jesus.

 

Most likely the bodies would not even have been buried, but only cast in the trash dump of the city where they would burn with the refuse placed there by the Jews.

 

You would think that Christ would have been buried by his family or at least by his disciples but they are absent from this scene and nothing is said about it.

 

That in itself is quite astounding for in our culture this would be unheard of.

 

But we find two men, one of whom we have never heard from before this event, chosen of God for this solemn duty.

 

Perhaps the other disciples did not knew these men at all.

 

Perhaps they had a peripheral view of Nicodemus and may have remembered his visit to Jesus by night.

 

But Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus were both, to a great degree, strangers to our Lord and to the disciples.

 

The disciples, who were insiders, did not step up to this duty but it was outsiders who responded to Godís direction to bury His Son.

 

The eleven disciples, who spent the last three years of their lives with Jesus, are not visible here.

 

But God did not choose them for this task but instead chose a man who was equipped to help, for Josephís tomb met Godís exact specifications for the burial place of his Son.

 

Joseph lived in Jerusalem, because he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the "Governing Council".

 

He was a man waiting for the kingdom of God and Jerusalem was the place to wait, for Jerusalem was to be the capital of Israel where the King would reign.

 

According to Mark he was a prominent member of the Council, a man of influence among those on the Council.

 

Luke takes care to tell us that he did not consent to their decision to put Jesus to death.

 

But Luke also infers in Luke 22:70 that the Council came to a unanimous decision that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, and that they unanimously pressed Pilate to put Him to death (Luke 22:70Ė23:1; Mark 15:1).

 

I think this conflict can be answered reasonably by concluding that neither Joseph nor Nicodemus were called to attend this meeting or to take part in the decision.

 

This was a setup from the beginning for the end result was a foregone conclusion.

 

Only those who supported this conclusion were invited to the meeting.

 

The Sanhedrin was interested in a quorum of those who would agree to the death of Jesus and therefore they would have excluded any who they thought would differ with their decision.

 

So marginal members were not invited when the Council was called together illegally the night of Jesusí arrest.

 

They knew who they could count on and Joseph and Nicodemus were not in that group.

 

There is an old adage that says: Birds of a feather flock together.

 

There were two groups of birds, a large group who wished to see Jesus dead and the second group composed of only Joseph and Nicodemus it seems.

 

But Joseph and Nicodemus were also birds of a feather.

 

Both seemed to have been secret disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Not completely secret but secret enough where they did come out boldly in favor of Jesus.

 

But the little favor they showed must have come through to their fellow council members for they were excluded.

 

As birds of a feather flock together they found each other in the group and therefore became partners in the burial of Jesus, the day of His crucifixion.

 

They were not of strength nor did their faith call them to defy the Council when it condemned Christ nor were they part of the night time Council that brought him to his crucifixion.

 

But once the crucifixion had taken place the little faith that they did have moved them to cast off their fear.

 

They determined to take a stand in protest of the action of the Council.

 

For Joseph and Nicodemus to request the body of Jesus in order to give it a proper burial was a public statement that Jesus was not a criminal, but that He was who he said he was, the Christ.

 

Jesusí body would have been cast into the trash heap had it not been for God using the little faith that Joseph had to boldly go before Pilate to ask for the body.

 

Joseph determined that the body of the Messiah was to be placed in the finest burial place possible and it was in his power to place His body in his own tomb.

 

Here again we see Christ as the substitute.

 

God knew there was little time to prepare for the Sabbath was upon them.

 

Time had been taken in getting permission to claim the body, time had elapsed in getting the body off of the cross, time had been taken to prepare the body with spices, wrapping it in linen and placing it in the tomb.

 

The Council had to know what Joseph had done, for when they asked for a guard to be posted at the grave site, they would have had to have been told that Joseph claimed the body and buried it.

 

Because of this they would have had to ask Joseph where the body was buried and therefore known of his complicity.

 

Showing respect for the body of Jesus was the only thing that Joseph and Nicodemus could do, at this point in time, to disassociate themselves from the actions of the Council, and to associate themselves with Jesus

 

This act on their part gave credence to His ministry, and to the fact that they believed he was the Messiah.

 

They did what they could, and they did it well.

 

The Gospels commend Joseph especially for he took the lead but Nicodemus can also be included in any commendation.

 

Where were the disciples?

 

Where were Jesusí kin?

 

They were nowhere to be seen but God had men who showed courage at this critical juncture of Jesusí death.

 

Men who showed their love for the Savior by showing respect for His body.

 

We donít know anything about them except what is recorded in the Gospels.

 

We donít know what their contribution was to the early church if any.

 

We are not told.

 

But they stand out as examples of faith of those who came through for Christ in difficult times.

 

47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.