Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THREE UNLIKELY MEN

JAMES MASON AS JOSEPH OF ARIMETHEA
IN "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST"
#3 THE SUPREME COURT JUDGE
Back in 1973, some liberal American judged created a so-called "right to privacy" which was never written into the United States constitutions. They claimed that such a "right" existed in the "emanations of the penumbra" of the Constitutions, while searching for a rationale to legalize Abortion. That was the United States Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court of the Jews in Jerusalem during the brief earthly life of Jesus possessed the same "moral flexibility" and were not originalists to the Word of God, as give on Mt. Sinai or the prophets. To these types - lawyers and pharisees all,  this "rebel" Jesus was getting too much in their business and their created religion. He was upsetting their apple carts (and money-changer tables). He was telling folks there was a Kingdom of Heaven and it was nothing like what those corrupt priests and lawyers in the temples and synagogues were forcing on them! Some of the higher echelon of the pharisees had corrupt dealings with the occupying Romans, so they could maintain their power. So, this Jesus had to go.

Scripture tells us that when the Sanhedrin (or the Council of 71 Supreme Judges) had the vote to finally do the deed and execute Jesus, this man did not vote with them - he abstained! These Judges set the rules and order for daily living for the Jews, so theirs was the final word on all religious Jewish matters..even with a Roman governor sitting in Jerusalem! This man who abstained is called a Disciple of Jesus and his name was Joseph of Arimethea. 


The Bible says "And behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their counsel and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:50-51). The council which Joseph was a member of was/is the Sanhedrin. The reason I said "is" the Sanhedrin, is because this same group who murdered the Son of God has reconstituted themselves back into the same Council which voted to send Christ to the Cross in AD 33!!!


Joseph is this third unlikely man who was deeply affected by the Death of Jesus. While he abstained from voting to prosecute and then execute the Savior, he is the only one of Jesus' Disciples not to flee like all the others except the young apostle John. Not just that, when the rubber hit the road, Joseph was the one who stepped out in Faith and boldly went to the pagan Roman governor Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus, which was still hanging on the Cross! Pilate had ascertained that Jesus was already dead, from one of his soldiers.

Because of his station in life, what what we know now, was a rich metals-trading merchant, Joseph not only had credibility as a Judge on the Council of Jerusalem, but honesty as a trader with both Jew and Gentile. So when as Matthew says in 27:57-58:  Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him".


Just briefly, the rest of the Story says that Joseph and his friends got Jesus off the Cross. He was obviously dead. Then another secret disciple, and a major figure in the Temple among the pharisees - Nicodemus - brought 100 pounds of burial spices and both men boldly showed their commitment to Christ, in front of the entire world!  Both secret disciples did not participate in the kangaroo court and despicable treatment of Jesus by the rest of the Council and the pharisees.But they stood silent as it unfolded, unjustly! Now, in the midst of the most important event in Christianity, as all Jesus' major followers fled in fear, these no -longer - secret Disciples would give up EVERYTHING they were, to lovingly bury the poor, humble Savior, Who didn't even have his own bed, when he was alive!


Joseph of Arimethea also fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 53:9b "And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death"!!! Can you believe this! Jesus was buried in the brand new tomb of the richest man in Jerusalem! The rest of the story of this wonderful human being is filled with Legend and half-truths. But this much is certain. When the religious leaders heard what Joseph and his sidekick, Nicodemus had done, they were kicked out of the Council!

Historical documents of the time showed that Joseph was briefly imprisoned and then both men ordered to leave Jerusalem. Joseph then joined an evangelistic team led by the original Disciple Philip, which traveled up through the middle of Europe, north of Rome and eventually landed in England!


This is all fantastic and heart warming history to read, but we can learn from what both Nicodemus and Joseph did. Nicodemus was the big religious scholar of Israel who used to come and visit Jesus in the middle of the night. We have John 3:16 because of Nicodemus.


Pre-crucifixion Joseph is a perfect example of most Christians today, who remain silent when the Name of Jesus is blasphemed or when true biblical Christianity is mocked and reviled. Very few of our children, unless we bring them up to be bold, will stand up and be counted about their faith. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-control. Therefore, if we bring them up with that in mind, the few of them we raise will indeed testify to Christ,  otherwise most will be silent all the way to the grave! Most will never even get saved, far less spread the gospel to somebody else, because the world has gotten to their souls and minds first!


Pre-crucifixion Joseph is also an example of the coming persecution when very few will be left who are true believers. Over 84% of our young people are losing their faith in the very first year of college. Already, over 67% or 2/3rds of so-called born again Christians believe there is another way to Heaven than Jesus. They obviously was not listening in church where they would have heard John 14:6 many times (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father, except through Me)!


POST- CRUCIFIXION Joseph of Arimethea is a perfect example of not only making a bold statement in of Faith in Christ in a hostile environment, but it is living proof of going above and beyond the Call of Christ! He knew he was risking everything and was going to lose it. He was correct, because he loved Jesus more than the things of this world. Joseph is an example of a person who is allowed the time and opportunity to make things right.


However, many will NEVER have this privilege! Many will die in their sins or their self-deception that they were saved (because they walked the aisle or said a prayer). Many will die like this and go straight away from God for eternity - separated from Him. They will never have the chance to make things right with God!


If you are one of them, or know someone who is, please share the Good News with them now! Not next week but now! Now! Now is the hour of redemption. DO NOT WAIT OR LINGER!!! Do not be like this wonderful Supreme Court Judge Joseph of Arimethea, who both blessed Jesus, and also fulfilled prophesy! That was a one time event. But be a bold disciple of Jesus Christ, to the lost and dying around you, and stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross! 

Amen!
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