The following is a message I was privileged to preach at Point Of Mercy in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve added it to The Native Bible Study because I feel it fits into the theme of the study.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Among the many interesting things about the Burial of Our Lord is these two men. Jesus needed no help to die, or to rise again, but of necessity someone would carry His body to the tomb. He was carried in, but He would walk out of His own accord.
I believe that every event in The Bible has a specific purpose, so I believe that these men’s involvement was no accident. The Lord and these two men went together into the tomb. They were hand selected for the job, they were wise men, and friends. I mention they were all wise men, so today lets call them The Wisemen Of Calvary.
You must start with Jesus, who was so much more than a man. His resurrection would write not just a new law, but a new covenant. This wasn’t just anyone, this was The Savior.
His entire mission was about relationship. It was more than only the forgiveness of sins, it was about a life of working together. Jesus’ goal was to wash away our sins, and to walk with us through the highways and byways as we reach others.
1 Peter 2:5-6
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
That’s why I love about this part of that day. It is the unique aspect of Calvary, Jesus knew that not just any men could do the job. They were doing more than burying a body, they were laying The Spiritual Cornerstone of the Church. The men that carried His body had to meet certain requirements, the first goes back to a conversation Jesus had with one of them in John 3.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
They had to be believers. They didn’t have to understand everything going on. They could be like us, they could have fears, and questions about certain things, but they had to be believers. Nicodemus first words in John 3:22 to Jesus confessed his belief, and our text reflects Joseph’s belief as well. Their faith in Him was the very reason they had volunteered for this task.
Our Savior doesn’t expect us to get everything, just to trust Him. If you have questions, ask with the right attitude. He will answer the relevant ones. When He doesn’t answer the others, trust that His Grace is sufficient. I didn’t know what I was facing this week, when I got the call about Mom’s heart attack, but I trusted that no matter what, God was in control. I was terrified, but I knew He wasn’t, and that was enough.
If you’re going to do anything for Jesus, you must believe the words of our Pastor’s (Pastor Denny Livingston) song, that “He is Greater Than The Need, and Bigger Than The Problem.” They didn’t understand why this had happened, they couldn’t predict the events of Sunday, but through it all, they had a firm grip on The Lord Jesus. In one sense, they were carrying Him, but their love for Him, was carrying them through this.
If you’re going through something, if the events of your life are shaking you, grasp The Savior a little tighter. He will carry you from the sorrow of your heartache to the shouts of an empty tomb. You see, these men had a relationship with Jesus, and that will produce life out of death, joy out of sorrow, and hope in a hopeless situation.
The second man was Joseph of Arimathea. Both he and Nicodemus were rulers of the Jews, members of the Sanhedrin, which was like a religious senate of the Jews. They were secret disciples, but the events of Calvary converted their silence into action.
It was Joseph’s tomb, he had it built for himself. Like many do, he placed a garden outside of it. They say men would do this so they could go there, and remind themselves of their own mortality. David said, teach me to know my end, so he would know how frail he was.
Here is the thing that always puzzled me, why Calvary for a graveyard? The Scriptures say that His burial place was in the same area as His Death. The way I read John 19, this was a place that had been used as a execution place before. Why there?
I understand that it fulfilled prophecy, let’s not forget, we view things on this side of Calvary, but on that side, what was Joseph’s thinking originally? Was it to remind this successful man that we all enter and exit this world in the same manner?
Did he realize there was a reason that he didn’t understand, but knew there was a higher purpose? If so, even without knowing everything he listened. Be sensitive to God’s leading in your life, and if you’re uncertain, seek council. Pray about it, talk to the Man Of God that He has placed to watch for our souls. God placed Pastors in my life and yours because they know where God wants to take us.
God had a plan for the piece of land Joseph had. Matthew said that Joseph had built the tomb for himself, and John said it was in the same place where Jesus was crucified.
Joseph built the tomb, and had the garden planted, and cultivated. God will plant, and cultivate things in you before its ever time to harvest. Joseph’s tomb and garden had a great future, but they started with rock, dirt, and seed. You’ll have some hard knocks, and some things will have to be dug out, but He has a wonderful future ahead.
Perhaps it was an inherited piece of land? Maybe an ancestor had been assigned it in the day of Joshua’s, and the family had reclaimed it after the return from Babylon. After all, who would want a place like this. Scholars say it is probable that the reason it was called the place of the skull was that it was famous for the skulls of condemned prisoners beheaded there.
Can you imagine that being your inheritance? The place of anguish and sorrow, and your family handing you the deed? It’s yours now, good luck, it was my problem first, now it’s yours. How many have hand me down horrors you inherited?
Jesus forever transformed the way we view Calvary. Now we look at it, not as a place of execution, but exoneration! No matter what you’ve inherited, He can make you new. He can transform whatever your situation and give you a much better inheritance!
The last man was Nicodemus. I wonder if the memory of that first meeting with Jesus echoed through his mind the way the outside light bounced off the sides of the cave? As he wrapped the body of Jesus with myrrh and aloes, did He remember The Master saying “You must be born again?”
As they entered the cave did he think about his own question, “How can a man enter the second time into his mother’s womb?” As he wrapped the side of Jesus with clothes covered in myrrh and aloes, did he remember the words of Jesus?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
When the Roman soldier had pierced Jesus’ side, out ran blood and water. This pointed back to the night time conversation, and ahead to Baptism and the Infilling Of The Spirit. Did verses fourteen and fifteen of John 3 dance through his thoughts?
Jesus hinted at Nicodemus’ conversion conversation about the last time we would see Nicodemus in Scripture. He was essentially saying “Nic, you’ll carry me in, but I’ll bring you out!” Nicodemus and Joseph both refused to follow their colleagues when they plotted against Jesus. They knew the Jews had it in for Jesus. Perhaps they even tried to warn Jesus, not that He didn’t already know. When He went to raise Lazarus, the disciples said Master the Jews recently sought to kill you. I’m sure it wasn’t hard to figure out, but maybe Joseph and Nicodemus had told them.
Either way, Nicodemus had a 100 pound combination of myrrh and aloes ready. There was no Jerusalem mart, or judea.com with same day delivery. When it was time for it, He was equipped to complete the task. When God calls you, He will equip you with what you need, when you need it.
This whole message has brought us to these three points. First, (1) your journey should reflect your conversion. As a Christian, we must never get too far from our first trip to the altar. That was Christ’s whole message to the seven Churches of Revelation, when you meet Me here, I’ll keep you there, as long as wherever you are, you stay connected to here.
The second event we see Nicodemus at in Scripture was in John 7. The Pharisees were attacking Jesus verbally, Nicodemus defended Him. The second point of the Message is, (2) Your commitment will compel you to action. Pastor preached a masterpiece of a message about the Three Tables Of The Church, and I believe that all of us can serve the needs of others.
These Sanhedrin members essentially became grave diggers for their love of Jesus. Jesus reputation was attacked, Nicodemus’ commitment compelled him to act then, and at Calvary. On the day of the preparation for eating the Passover, when no one wanted to touch a dead body, because of being considered unclean, these men were committed to Christ.
That brings us to the third and final point, (3) From conversion to completion, it will result in caring for Christ’s body. That wasn’t just the physical earthly body of The Savior they were carrying, it was symbolic of The Church.
These men aren’t remembered for their riches, their power, or their importance. They were remembered for ministering to the need of The Savior. Jesus said when you do for others, you’re doing for Me. He will never forget what those men did for Him, or what you do for others, because He views it as what you’ve done for Him.
Jesus’ name means Jehovah Is Salvation, Joseph means He adds, and Nicodemus means Victory of the people. That day, God brought into the tomb of death, Salvation, addition, and victory. He washed our sins away. Jesus added an exit from death into an abundant life, and provided victory for all people.
He did this so we would have the opportunity to be converted. Knowing that our commitment to Him would compel us to action. An the end result would be caring for the body of Christ. When you carry a love for Jesus, it will change you, the place you’re in, and everything thing you touch. That relationship with Jesus, that love and commitment will make us all witnesses and Wisemen, thanks to Calvary.