Saturday, April 15, 2017

Secret disciples

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 27:57-66

TO CHEW ON: "Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus." Matthew 27:57

Here Joseph of Arimathea (a rich man, Matthew points out) asked Pilate for Jesus' body. John's account of the same event includes Nicodemus as Joseph's companion in this:

"After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds" - John 19:38-39.

I find it interesting that these two members of the Sanhedrin, so intimidated by their fellow Jewish leaders during Jesus' life that they didn't follow Him openly, finally showed their colours at His death. Perhaps they felt ashamed that they hadn't declared themselves sooner. Maybe they wished they had tried harder to bring about a different ending, and this was the least they could do. From their point of view it had ended badly and now showing their allegiance to Jesus was more important than staying tight with the Sanhedrin crowd. Maybe folks like they were the reason Jesus had warned so often about the danger of riches.

On the other hand, their riches and position now gave them the leverage they needed to get Jesus' body from Pilate. Joseph had the tomb, Nicodemus the expensive spices. With their resources they showed Jesus care and respect, albeit too late.

I come from this story with two thoughts.
  • Riches and influence can be a trap. Fear of losing them has the power to shut mouths and change behaviour. I am reminded of Jesus' words: "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" - Mark 8:48.
  • But riches and influence are also needed in the Kingdom of God. God gives the power to make money ("...for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth..." - Deuteronomy 8:18). He places people into positions of influence ("But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another" - Psalm 75:7). If we're rich and influential, let's not get caught up in materialism and power, nor be made to feel guilty by those who have given up everything. Rather, let's put our resources at the disposal of the Kingdom of God.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the example of Joseph and Nicodemus who honoured Jesus so beautifully in His death. Help me to use my influence and resources for Your kingdom. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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