Joseph of Arimathea – Easter 2019


Reports!  Reports are coming in from Galilee!  Someone is telling the people to repent for the kingdom of God is near.  The Baptist is bad enough but he is by the Jordan.  The messages form Galilee also have stories of healings and large crowds.  

These reports produced two responses in the Council in Jerusalem – Fear and Finally:

Fear– Another crazy rabbi stirring the people!  Another revolt against Rome.  He is not part of the Council, Pharisees, or Sadducees.  God stopped doing miracles hundreds of years ago, this cannot be of God. This rabbi will have to be stopped or there will be trouble!  

Finally– The Baptist preached repentance but he had no miracles.  Many people are being healed just as the Prophets said.  Could the Messiah really have arrived?  Were the Magi after the census correct, our king had been born?  We need to see this rabbi and hear his message.

This is the ocean of emotions that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus found themselves in.  We know very little about these two men and their relationship with Jesus, but their ripple in the water is worth noting.  Luke 23: 50and Mark 15: 43 state that Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God.  Matthew 27: 57 and John 19: 38 add to Joseph’s story by identifying him as a member of the ruling council, a secret disciple, and one of the two men who asked for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.  Nicodemus, the other man, in the Easter story is only found in John 3, 7: 50, and 19: 39.  He realized that those miracles could only come from God.  Jesus explained the born again experienced to him, Nicodemus sought a proper trial for Jesus, and was a secret disciple.  Well, this is until they asked Pilate for, and prepared Jesus’ body for burial. 

Did Joseph and Nicodemus go on the missions, from the Council, to ask Jesus questions?  Were they part of the 120 in the prayer meeting on the day of Pentecost or were they part of the 3000?  How many miracles did they see Jesus do?  What kind of “Kingdom” was Joseph waiting for?  Since I can not answer any of those questions, I will settle for the statement that “Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God”.  Because Joseph choose to identify with a dead Jesus, I hope his view of the “kingdom” was more than a military/civil leader to free Israel from the Romans.  (If a military kingdom was what he hoped for, why bother with a dead man?)  I want to/have to believe that Joseph had heard Jesus teach on the kingdom and had grabbed a vision of Jesus’ kingdom.  

So, Joseph may have understood the parables and the “kingdom of heaven is like a____” statements.  I can even believe that he understood when Nicodemus talk to him about the “born again” experience in John 3 (you know he did).   These two learned and powerful men were certainly the exception rather than the rule in Israel!

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jesus-crucified-dies/

Jesus as the Master Teacher

As the master teacher, Jesus used a variety of methods and presentation styles but His course content was consistent; whether by parable, teaching, or preaching His message was the Kingdom of God.

Jesus knew who He was speaking to and used examples that were at His audience’s level. With the crowds, He spoke parables using examples that they saw every day. Yeast in flour, marriage feasts, and sowing crops are examples of things He used in parables to illustrate the Kingdom of God. His parables could be taken on multiple levels of understanding but I think the meanings were always hidden because Jesus wanted people to ask questions. Isaiah had talked about this fact when he said that they would be “ever hearing but never understanding”; just because you enjoy a story does not mean that you understand the symbolism and metaphors that are written into it by the author.  With the leaders, His meanings were still veiled but they knew when he was talking about them; the example here is the Good Shepherd vs. the hired help.

He used current events as part of His teaching like when he talked about the tower that fell or when Pilate mixed pigs blood into the sacrifice.

Jesus used various strategies for where He was and whom He wanted to reach. He talked to massive crowds, small groups, and even one-on-one when the people or persons needed that in order for His message of the Kingdom to be gotten out and understood.  He would launch a discussion question like, “Who do the people say I am” or He would ask a question and patiently wait for an answer like when the woman was about to be stoned for adultery. (Of course, that could be Him as a Master Judge also.)

He had chosen the disciples they got special treatment. He would explain parables to them but He knew that He would have to send the Holy Spirit (re-teach) because they were not progressing fast enough. They got quantity and quality time with Jesus and I think He even gave them tests. If I may, the teaching that God can provide was the feeding of the five thousand and their test was the feeding of the four thousand. (see Test Revisited)

The picture was taken at Houston Baptist University.