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|Posted on August 8, 2016 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was 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 away his body.
Joseph of Arimathea was an incognito disciple of Jesus. He kept his trust in Jesus a secret for fear of reprisals by others of the Jewish religious leadership. Remember, we have brought out in earlier passages that those who professed belief in Jesus as the Messiah were thrown out of the synagogues.
Luke 23:50-51 (NIV) Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin who was not in agreement with their condemnation of Jesus. He was probably not there when the decision was made to deliver Jesus to Pilate to be crucified. Otherwise, he surely would have been a dissenting vote. I have a feeling that the leaders only gathered those they knew would vote with them to condemn Jesus. The reason they met secretly at night was so the vote would not be muddled up by those who were for Jesus like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
Matthew 27:59-60 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
Joseph was bold enough to ask Pilate to allow him to take Jesus’ body for burial, and Pilate granted his request. Preparing a body for burial is a very intimate exercise, especially as it was done in the day of Jesus by family or friends. The incognito duo of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus became bold enough to ask for Jesus’ body and perform this final service for their Lord. After Joseph of Arimathea was allowed to remove Jesus from the cross, he laid him in his very own tomb. He wrapped the body in linen with spices as was the custom, but he did not perform this task alone.
John 19:39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
Remember Nicodemus from John chapter three? He came to Jesus at night to ask Him questions. Now he comes in the daylight to assist in preparing Him for burial. Seventy-five pounds is only 25 pounds less than I weighed when I was 5’1”! That’s a lot of aromatic spices and a lot of money put into perfume!
John 19:40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
They were having to commence with the preparations speedily because it was almost time for the Sabbath. Wrapping a body for burial would be considered work and would also render them “unclean” for a period of time because touching a dead body caused defilement under the law.
John 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
As we already pointed out, that tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus was the first to occupy this tomb but only for three short days.
John 19:42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Joseph offered his tomb because he loved the Lord, and it was in close proximity to Golgotha, the place called “the skull” where the Lord was crucified. As stated earlier, when they were finished wrapping Jesus’ body, the men left after rolling a large stone in front of the entrance.
Q – Joseph and Nicodemus had been secret disciples but loved Jesus enough to take care of His burial. They probably faced repercussions from the Jewish authorities for this action, but did it anyway. Do you fear what people will think of you if you stand up boldly for Jesus? Lay those fears aside and worship Him wholeheartedly in all you do. Demonstrate your love for Him by coming out of disguise and allowing your intimacy with the Lord to shine out through your face.
|Posted on April 7, 2016 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
John 7:45 (ESV) The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
The officers the Jewish leaders had sent out to arrest Jesus returned without a prisoner. The chief priests and Pharisees demanded to know why they failed to execute their mission. The officers declared they had never known anyone as articulate at Jesus on whatever subject He was teaching on. They may also have been struck by the authority with which He spoke as was often the case with His listeners such as those in Mark 1:21.
Mark 1:21 (NASB)They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
He expounded scripture with complete confidence. Of course He did. He inspired the writers of the Old Testament. Perhaps the officers were becoming inclined to believe Him.
John 7:47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”
The authorities were basically saying the crowd was stupidly deceived because Jesus couldn’t be the real Messiah since they, the religious leaders, had not endorsed Him! He had not been authenticated by the high priests and Pharisees as the religious governing authorities. They believed the crowd was illiterate of the meaning of the law. Not only did they call the crowd ignorant for believing Jesus but pronounced them accursed. I think they had things backwards! Those who do NOT believe Jesus are the ones who are accursed. The religious leaders were actually speaking of their own fate, the fate for all those who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who reject God’s gift of grace.
John 7:50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
You may remember Nicodemus from the discussion about being born again in John chapter three. Not sure if he was a closet believer at this point or was just keeping an open mind. However, he accused the leadership of condemning Jesus without the fairness of a trial. Nicodemus was giving them an opportunity to think about it, check it out, before they jumped off a cliff and died. Actually, we all live forever. Where the rubber meets the road is you can live forever with God in life, liberty, and love; or you can live forever separated from God where there is screaming, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
John 7:52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
The priests and Pharisees responded to Nicodemus with the trite assumption that Jesus was from Galilee and challenged him to search scripture to see if there were any prophecies of a prophet from that region. No hearing, so no opportunity to hear that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy found in Micah 5:2:
Micah 5:2 (NASB)“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephratha, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”
It was the Pharisees who were ignorant, not Nicodemus. They had not checked their facts to find out that Jesus was not originally from Galilee but was born in Bethlehem. In Hebrew, Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” I see…the Bread of Life was born in the “House of Bread.” Cool!
Q – Have you made up your mind about Jesus? Are you examining the facts or just listening to others’ opinions? Read the Bible. Stick with us in studying John. You cannot stay on the fence, walking a tightrope. Failure to trust Him is in fact rejecting Him. There is no middle ground.
|Posted on February 27, 2016 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
John chapter 3 is both apologetic and evangelistic. In it, John proclaims and defends the deity of Christ, that He is the Son of God. He also clearly presents the way of salvation through God’s gift of His only begotten Son. The story of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus continues the theme at the end of chapter two that Jesus can see into the hearts of men.
John 3:1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
The Pharisees were Jewish “Puritans” who meticulously observed the letter of the Mosaic law along with a host of traditions they had added to it. However, they often missed the heart, the spiritual intention, of the Law. Jesus called them out on this:
Matthew 23:23 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
According to the MacArthur Bible Commentary the Pharisees were comprised of mostly middle-class businessmen rather than priests and Levites. I had always pictured them as rich men. The common people revered them because their outward appearance seemed to indicate they were devout. However, Jesus at one point described them as “whitewashed tombs.” OUCH!
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee but a “ruler of the Jews” which means he was a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was comprised of the High Priest, the chief priests, the elders, and some scribes for a total of seventy-one people. Nicodemus must have been an elder, head of a family since he was neither a priest nor a Scribe. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews in Palestine, but they had to defer to the Roman authority in matters of capital punishment which we will see later as Jesus is brought before Pilate, the Procurator. Nicodemus was a member of this prestigious group.
John 3:2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Nicodemus approached Jesus under the umbrella of darkness because he did not want any of the other Pharisees to know of his inquiry of Jesus. Nicodemus must have been talking about Jesus to other Pharisees whether they were willing to admit it or not because he says, “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” He acknowledges that the power to perform the miracles Jesus had done must have come from God. Yet, at this time, he still could not bring himself to admit that Jesus could be God’s Son. As we will see later, most of the Pharisees did not even give Jesus a chance. But Nicodemus wanted to look into His eyes, talk with Him face to face, and see exactly what He was about. You know the honesty or deceit of a man by looking into His eyes.
John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Jesus’ statement about being born again was shocking because Nicodemus would have been confident he would see the kingdom of God because of his righteousness in adhering to the Law and his Jewish lineage. Jesus was saying this heritage and personal righteousness was not enough. The other reason it is hard for Nicodemus to digest is that he is taking it literally! Because he did take it literally, it made his brain go tilt, tilt, tilt!
John 3:4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Nicodemus pictures a grown man somehow going back into the womb to be “born again.” As we will see, this is not what Jesus meant at all. The phrase “born again” can literally be translated “born from above.” Jesus endeavors to explain this distinction in the next few verses.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Since Nicodemus is obviously thinking of natural, physical birth, Jesus contrasts this with spiritual rebirth. He compares the Spirit with the wind. We do not see the wind, but we feel and see its effects. So Jesus is declaring to Nicodemus that he must receive transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not see the actual transaction of the Holy Spirit entering a life, but like the wind, we see the effect this has on the person’s attitudes and behaviors. We see the fruit of the Spirit in a consecrated life. Jesus is explaining that our own self-righteousness can never be good enough. We must be transformed by the power of the Lord through faith in order to approach a Holy God.
John 3:9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
Old Nicodemus still doesn’t get it. Even though he now knows it is not a second physical birth, he still cannot figure out how this new birth transpires. Where he goes wrong is trying to reason everything out. It is all an intellectual process for him. He is not using eyes of faith. Of course, I guess we should cut Nick some slack since Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected. His wheelhouse is dissecting the Law for proper interpretation, but he misses the core of the Law which is love for God and people. The Pharisees sat in judgment upon the people but did nothing to lift them up.
Luke 11:46 (NIV) Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
John 3:10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
Nicodemus was a teacher of teachers. He was a respected authority among the Jews. The Pharisees were so focused on the external obedience they could not see the need for inward transformation. If you do not know the reason for the ritual, it is of no effect. The rituals of the Jews should have been an act of obedience based on their relationship to God, not an occasion to say, “I’m holier than you.” I am reminded of a song that was instrumental in my realizing I was a “good girl” but did not know Jesus at all. The lyric was “Empty eyes stare from empty sockets; frozen lips form frozen words. Masks that hide faceless people, acting roles with lines unheard. Row on row we march in order, mouthing hymns and reading prayers.” Pharisees demonstrated all the outward appearance of serving the Lord but needed an operation of the heart that only the Holy Spirit could perform. The Apostle Paul explained this quite well:
Romans 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Q – Has God revealed a need for inward change in your own life? Have you been checking off all the expected boxes for “Christian” behavior rather than submitting to having the Holy Spirit change your heart? In tomorrow’s lesson, Jesus will explain to Nicodemus exactly how this change occurs.