Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012 … Standing the Gap for Christ

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 316

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Matthew, Chapters 27 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Mark, Chapters 15 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Matthew 27: 57-61 : [NLT] … {Matthew’s account of the burial of Jesus after the crucifixion.} ... 
57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who was one of Jesus’ followers, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance as he left. 61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching. 
Reference Passage: Mark 15: 42-47 : [NLT] … {Luke’s burial account as another reference point.} ... 
42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 an honored member of the high council, Joseph from Arimathea (who was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come), gathered his courage and went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman military officer in charge and asked him. 45The officer confirmed the fact, and Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth, and taking Jesus’ body down from the cross, he wrapped it in the cloth and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.  

Reference Passage: Luke 23: 50-56: [NLT] … {Luke’s burial account as a reference passage for comparison.} ... 
50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he had been waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation£ for the Sabbath. 55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where they placed his body. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to embalm him. But by the time they were finished it was the Sabbath, so they rested all that day as required by the law.  
Reference Passage: John 19: 38-42 : [NLT] … {This is the same story from John’s gospel account; and note the one reference to Nicodemus (the same member of the Sanhedrin from John 3 fame), who was also involved in Jesus’ burial.} ... 
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take Jesus’ body down. When Pilate gave him permission, he came and took the body away. 39 Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night, also came, bringing about seventy-five pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Together they wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation before the Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. 

My Journal for Today: Today my chronological reading assignment took me to two chapters from Matthew and Mark, both recounting the final passion of Jesus, … His trials, the death on the cross, and Jesus’ burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. And for some reason (I believe God’s Spirit) I was drawn to meditate and consider the two accounts from these authors of Jesus’ burial. And in my study, I was taken, by cross reference, to the synoptic accounts in the gospels of Luke and John, who wrote of the same events.

You know there are people, despite the vast historical evidence (even photos), who deny the holocaust took place in Germany during WW2. And there are also fools who deny that Jesus ever lived, died, and was buried and resurrected. But there is too much evidence to the contrary; and these four separate historical accounts in Scripture of Jesus’ burial, as well as a host of extra-biblical historians writing about the same events, show us that Jesus really did die on the cross, was buried, and then there were over 500 people who were recorded by biblical and extra-biblical accounts to have been an eye-witnesses to Jesus interacting with His disciples after the burial and resurrection.

But the one little bit of history from these accounts which jumped out at me today was the fact that Joseph of Arimathea, the rich member of the Sanhedrin, along with his co-conspirator, Nicodemus (from John 3 accounts) “outed” themselves, standing in the gap to take accountability for the burial of Jesus in Joseph’s tomb.

I’ve been in Jerusalem and seen the archeologically uncovered site of Joseph’s grave; and it’s impressive to be there and view the place where Joseph and Nicodemus risked their entire future, and most certainly their reputations, as leaders in the Jewish religious establishment of the day to take the body of Jesus and insure His burial under Jewish religious practices. It was a very risky and an openly courageous witness which these two exhibited; and the story prompts me to ask of my own spirit, “Would I have had the courage to be such a witness for Christ if such an event took place where I had to make a choice like Joseph and Nicodemus made?”

I hope so. Certainly no grave could hold Jesus; but it was the witness of two Jewish leaders who insured that the passion of Christ could be fulfilled as the Old Covenant prophesied.

So, on this Veteran’s Day (here, this morning, on Nov. 11th), let me salute two who stood in the gap for Christ as many soldiers stand in the gap for our freedom all around the globe today.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I pray that I would be one to stand in the gap, as did these two, to witness to Your Name in hostile world. Amen

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