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Drawing the Line at Jesus - Mark 15:42-47

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Mark 15:42-47 Drawing the Line at Jesus 2020-06-28 We unite around the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Fall of 2005 Natalie and I spent two weeks in Austria with friends of ours who were church planters there. One afternoon as we were pushing baby Joel through a park, two nice young men approached us and began speaking to us in German. We replied that we didn’t speak much German, and they quickly figured out that we were American. They were thrilled! You see they, too, were Americans. They began telling us how nice it was to speak English, as they were only allowed to speak German while in Austria. They were rejoicing to have fellow-Americans to interact with, those that had a bond because we were citizens of the same country. Then, they began speaking to us about Jesus and referring to Scripture. As they did this I reached down into the bottom of the stroller and pulled out my Bible. I began reading aloud the Scriptures they were referencing, which had nothing to do with the doctrines they were trying to teach. You see, these two young men were Mormon, and the Jesus they believe in isn’t the Jesus of the Bible. They were trying to convince us that Jesus wasn’t who we believed him to be, but who they believed him to be from the teachings of their uninspired text, the Book of Mormon. What started almost as a celebration and reunion, learning that we shared the same country, quickly dissolved and dissipated into realizing that, although we belong to the same nation on earth, we belonged to two separate heavenly kingdoms. We couldn’t unite around what was most important, the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Natalie and I gathered with the church in Austria on Sunday, the service was in German, but it was a very cosmopolitan mix of people. There were people from probably 10 different nations packed into this small building, but we worshipped with them as brothers and sisters and saw everyone’s reluctance in finally going home, a long while after the service ended. We were united around the gospel, and were citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Different languages, different cultures, different colors of skin, different preferences and tastes, but one in Christ. Scripture Passage: Mark 16:42-47 As we come to our passage this morning, we see Joseph of Arimathea, an unexpected disciple, but one who was devoted to Christ and served him with courage and care. We see that Jesus is the central figure, of this story and of history, and the one we unite or divide over. We unite around the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Courage of Joseph (vv.42-43) 1. v.42 “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation…” - This has been a loooong Friday, and now sunset, the mark of the beginning of the Sabbath day, was approaching. 2. v.43 “Joseph of Arimathea…” - We’re introduced to this new character in the gospel. He appears quite suddenly and acts quite surprisingly, showing great courage and great care. 1. Respected member of the council - One of the Sanhedrin, the religious elite among the Jews. Out of all the nation there were 70 men who belonged to this council. They were prominent, wealthy, and influential. Joseph is called out as being a respected member, which seems to set him apart even further, the elite of the elite. But wasn’t the Sanhedrin the council that convicted Jesus and delivered him to Pilate to be crucified? Luke 23:50–51 “He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.” 2. Also himself looking for the kingdom of God - He knew there was a kingdom, not of this earth, that was worth waiting and watching for. The kingdom of God, ruled and reigned by God, where peace and righteousness dwell. This makes me think of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2, who recognized the baby Jesus as being the one who would usher in the kingdom of God and accomplish the redemption of Israel. 1. Matthew 27:57 “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.” 2. John 19:38 “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews…” 3. Took courage and went to Pilate - up to this point he was a secret disciple, a covert believer. But now he takes courage. 1. Why would this require courage? He would have looked like a sympathizer to the Romans and a betrayer to the Jews. The Romans would prefer the body to hang as long as possible as a deterrent to others that might consider going against Rome. The Jews, especially Joseph’s fellow council-members, wouldn’t want any kind association with Jesus, and Joseph doing so would set him at odds with them and likely harm his place of prominence in society. This is what kingdom citizenship often looks like, that you have enemies on both sides. This was social, and probably financial, suicide. So far Joseph has been flying under the radar, a secret disciple. Now, when the stakes are the highest, Joseph steps up and stands out and identifies himself publicly as a follower of Jesus - and a devoted one at that. No more undercover, no more peripheral or secret belief, but front and center and bold profession, evidenced by his action. 1. This is what Christianity is, identification with Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection. This is why the Christian life has at the beginning of it baptism - it’s identifying with Christ in his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is a bold public step, a declaration of your identification with Jesus and his work in you and for you, and your life being marked by him. This is why Paul writes in Romans 6:4 “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Baptism is a courageous step. 2. What does it mean to take courage? To gather up or pick up courage. I understand taking courage to imply that courage isn’t something inside of you, intrinsic to you, but something apart from you that you take to yourself. This is courage that comes from the Lord, from looking to him and depending on him, from trusting him and obeying him. 1. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” 2. Psalm 31:24 “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” 3. Courage is daring to act on your God-given convictions, to stand up or to stand out, valuing the approval of God rather than the approval of man (John 12:42-43). 1. John Wesley said, “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.” The Surprise of Pilate (vv.44-45) 1. v.44 “Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.” - Why was he surprised? As I mentioned last week, crucifixion was not designed to expedite death. It was engineered to prolong misery and suffering; it wasn’t uncommon for someone to be on the cross for days before they finally died. Jesus was crucified at 0900 and was dead about 6 hours later. 2. v.45 “…he granted the corpse to Joseph.” - Confirmation of death, important to the gospel account. 1. Apostles’ Creed - “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…” 2. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” 3. No broken legs, as was done to the others crucified along with Jesus. John 19:31–37 “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”” 4. Jesus’ life was offered, not taken. He willingly gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 1. John 10:18 “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”” 2. Philippians 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The Care of Joseph (v.46) 1. v.46 “And Joseph bought a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb…” - Joseph showed great care toward Jesus in what he did. He took Jesus’ body from the cross, purchased a burial garment, laid him in his own tomb (Matt. 27:60), and sealed it up against grave robbers and animals. John tells us that Nicodemus helped in the work, bringing 75lbs of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). They didn’t understand that Jesus was only borrowing the tomb for a few days. They thought he was dead for good, which makes this devotion at this time even more astounding. The Witness of the Women (v.47) 1. v.47 “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” - These faithful women, who ministered to him in his life, and now were watchful in his death, observing carefully where he was laid so they could come back after the Sabbath and minister to him in his death. 1. The witness of these women should give us even more confidence in the truthfulness of the gospel. Two or three witnesses are needed, and here we have two women witnessing where he is laid. But that’s part of the astounding thing, and reinforces the fact that the resurrection story wasn’t manufactured - women were the witnesses. For the first century cultures, the testimony of women wouldn’t have the same power as the testimony of men. In fact, to build a case on the witness of women would weaken your case. If you were to make up a story about the resurrection, wouldn’t you make it up so that it seemed as strong as possible? But this story isn’t manufactured to seem as convincing as possible, it’s recorded accurately and truthfully, and God shows honor to women by having theirs be the testimony of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Conclusion: The gospel is true, and it divides and unites. Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34). Many have united in opposition to the gospel, just as the Jews and the Romans did. But the gospel separates out those who are called, like Joseph and Nicodemus and the women and the disciples, and unites them together into a unity that is indivisible. The Body of Christ, purchased by blood, called with an indisputable call, working in a kingdom that cannot be conquered. Titus 2:11–13 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”
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