Saturday, March 30, 2013

Who saw Jesus through to the end?

7:56 p.m. Today's project was to post Bible verses on Facebook on the last hours of Jesus' life, His death on the cross, and His burial. These verses enable us to arrive at the character of two kinds of Christ-followers.  Mark 15:40-41:

There were also women looking on  from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. 

Quick question: who were the women in addition to, since we see the word "also" repeated? (bold lettering mine). The women were in addition to the disciples who had fled from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples did run away in fear, but in all fairness, the temple authorities would not have been seeking to arrest lowly women. So in a sense, the heavily shrouded women had more freedom to inconspicuously watch their beloved Jesus die. v. 42-47:

Now when the evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. (Bold lettering mine).

There is so much to commend about the Pharisee Nicodemus, "a ruler of the Jews" (John 3:1), "the teacher of Israel," as Jesus called Joseph of Arimathea, the one who came to see Him at night (John 3). We know he honestly came seeking to know and understand Jesus. In their discussion Jesus introduces the concept of being "born again," (John3:3) and  gives us John 3:16,

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 It is widely understood that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus, because of his public position.But scripture commends him as on who "was himself waiting for the kingdom of God." But look at the change that came over him, going to the Roman Governor Pilate in person after a day of public outcry, executions and near-insurrection! He took courage. Joseph may have stayed undercover originally, but when it mattered in a unique way, He stepped up and publicly demonstrated his belief in Jesus as Messiah.Just as believers today differ in their degree of boldness in the face of persecution, the ones out in front of the parade might wither in the heat (see the parable of the sower), while quieter believers end up coming forward later on, risking as much or more than the louder proclaimers.

Joseph then showed his commitment to Jesus by purchasing expensive, fine linen to bury Jesus in; then took our Lord's beaten body down from the cross, another very public act.Joseph's generosity continues: he buried Jesus in his own new tomb (a detail from Matthew 27:60) and not coincidentally fulfilled Isaiah 53:9, that He was "with the rich at His death." Then Joseph rolled the stone in front of the tomb. Do you want to be used of God for His eternal purposes? Be a Joseph of Arimathea: drop your obsessions with your position, possessions and privacy and follow Jesus boldly! Hold nothing back. Jesus held nothing back from you and me, did He? As Hebrews 12:3-4 says to us,

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your minds.You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Now, back to the women. Mark 15:47:

And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

The women's devoted following of Jesus until He could be seen no more; their careful observation of the location of the tomb; and the sheer, gutsy perseverance of the Marys after the longest, most frightening day in human history astounds me. These women have uniquely inspired believers for twenty centuries.If you say you believe in Jesus, live your belief, give Him your all, and follow Him to the end.

Come Easter morning, these loving women will be rewarded like no others have ever been nor will ever be! The story of Jesus' sacrificial death is very, very far from over.

No comments:

Post a Comment