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February 17, 2022
Graham Lacey

Joseph of Arimathea: Part 2

Taken from a sermon preached on the 19th January 1986.

Continued from Part 1

Nicodemus and Joseph

You know there is a lovely touch in the story in John. He is the only one who mentions Nicodemus. This Nicodemus came by night to see Jesus Christ our Lord, acknowledged Him as an equal, a Rabbi.

He said, “Look here, I have come to find out what it is that you are preaching, what it is that you believe. I am prepared to be quite open minded. I have heard some quite remarkable things about you and want to hear it for myself.”

But you know he was afraid too. He came by night. Met in darkness for fear that anyone would see him. And we don't read another word about him until John 19, where we find that he is with Joseph of Arimathea.

I believe that Nicodemus was a great intellectual. A man from a very fine family. A man who had had an outstanding education. A man who was a learned and respected Rabbi. But he was afraid. You see, Nicodemus was the only one, you will remember, who gave a rather feeble protest when the Sanhedrin were mockingly trying our blessed Lord. He was shouted down. He was ignored. But he had been a secret believer too.

I picture him coming around to Joseph of Arimathea's home, by the back door, and saying, “Look what are we going to do about Christ? I mean it is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You know, the disciples, they have all cleared off, Joseph. I mean, they are even more terrified than we have been all these years. I don't think that they all understand what we understand, Joseph, that He is the Messiah come. That He came to die so that we might have life and have it more abundantly.”

And I can see Joseph rear himself up, a man with the qualities of integrity and loyalty, and say, “Look here, Nicodemus, old chap. This isn't good enough. I am going to Pilate; I am going to beg for the body of Christ. For if I don't get there soon, it is the day of preparation before the Sabbath. They will take that body down from the cross, they will break His bones along with the thieves nailed either side of Him. They will either bury Him at the foot of those crosses or take Him out to the dump and discard His body there and throw some earth upon it. This is the King. We can't allow that.”

I can hear Nicodemus say, “I'll be right with you Joseph. I'll come but let me go first and get some myrrh and some aloes. Let me get a hundred pounds of them. Let me get some new, fine, pure linen that we can wrap the body in and treat our King like a King. We can't have Him die, executed in this ignominious way, and then leave Him to be buried by the soldiers. There is a dignity about the grave. We should afford Him that honor.”

I hear Joseph saying to Nicodemus, “Look here, old chap, you had better not come with me. I mean, I think I am better to handle this alone. Go get the myrrh, go get the aloes and just pray continually that God will give me strength and wisdom as I deal with Pilate.”

The Burial of Jesus

In one Gospel we read that he went in and "besought" the body.
In another, "craved" the body.
In Luke, I believe it is, he "begged" the body.

He put it all on the line. Can you think of anything more controversial? Anything that had occupied the media more in that day than Jesus Christ and His trial? The whole thing had been such a shabby affair. First of all there was that midnight trial, illegally in Caiaphas's house, all hurried up and rushed about, in case the crowd got out and changed the view of the members of the Sanhedrin. Then there was a frightful embarrassment called Judas of Iscariot, who had sold, for 30 pieces of silver, the right and access to Jesus Christ. And when he had realized what he had done, he threw down that money and he went out and hanged himself. Imagine the media trying to explain that away. He had been the key man who had laid all the groundwork for the arrest.

Pilate's immediate concern was whether Christ was indeed dead already, and called for a centurion and sent him out in a hurry and said, “I want you to go and find out if He is dead,” The centurion came back and said, “Oh yes, He's been dead awhile.”

Oh the mercy of God that He used doubting, wicked men to confirm the death of our blessed Lord. To confirm that He was indeed dead before the body was taken from the cross. That takes care of those little doubters, doesn't it.

So it was that Joseph of Arimathea went out to that cursed cross. I imagine him with Nicodemus looking up at that awesome sight, that face covered with blood and with spittle and with thorns. That body wracked because it had been scourged and buffeted with whips and with rope. And I imagine their hands clasped around the body of our blessed Lord. Their hands joined together bound by a common love for Jesus Christ.

So they carried Him down from that cross and they wrapped His body in fine linen, with myrrh and aloes, and they laid Him in a tomb in which no man had yet laid.

The Resurrected Christ

I see those pure white linens wrapped around His body, no longer as the linens of death, but our wedding garments. I see Him as the Bridegroom waiting for the Church. I see Him as the one who is the victor over death, the devil and the grave. Jesus Christ, alive, seated at the right hand of God the Father in glory, making intercession for us. Jesus Christ presenting me holy and blameless in His sight with joy.

Are you ashamed? Are you in fear? Don't turn your back on the King. Don't be ashamed. Follow the example of Joseph, Mary's husband, and Joseph of Arimathea, and put it all on the line. Know the joy and the thrill of serving the King.

There is so much more I could share. There is so much about the Lord and about that tomb that needs to be said. Oh how important that grave scene is. Remember, when they had laid Him there, they came and they rolled a great big stone across the entrance so the tomb was sealed. No-one could get in or get out.

But remember, if we read on we find out that our Lord rose again! Oh let me tell you this, that when you get buried one of these days–and we all will be some years from now–and they place a heavy stone or copper plate upon us, that is not the end.

If you have accepted Jesus in your heart and in your life, the moment you die you will be taken by the angels into the presence of the Lord, to be with Him forever. Ah yes, He has had the victory. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

I am ready for the King to come.

Oh face to face with Christ my Savior
Face to face what will it be
When in glory I behold Him
Jesus Christ who died for me

Graham Lacey

Graham Lacey has been a born again believer for more than fifty years. He has served as the chairman of more than ten publicly listed companies across America, Canada, New Zealand, and Great Britain. His ongoing work is as a Kingdom consultant to ministries and preachers.

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