Mark – God is On Our Side!
There will be times in our lives that we will be faced with doing the right thing…or not. Stepping up for what is right comes from a deep sense of caring, of empathy, of even reverence for human life. When the time comes, how will we respond? Who will drive us to risk it all for life eternal?
Joseph, a man on the council, stepped up. This same council was instrumental in sending Jesus to the cross of humility and shame. This council was powerful. This council instigated the cruel torture and subsequent death of Jesus, Son of God through manipulation. Joseph “was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.” Joseph thought differently. Joseph publicly took a stand AND took a huge risk, defying the council, by going to Pilot to ask for the body of Jesus.
HE WAS PREPARED TO CARE
Joseph planned this well. He was prepared to do what he felt he must do. Joseph went public with his action of caring. He not only took a sheet to cover the naked body of Jesus out of reverence, but he had a new tomb ready, a place of honor, to lay Jesus’ body at rest.
THE WOMEN STAYED
The women also took a risk by staying with Jesus the entire time, watching their beloved Master go through torture, struggling for every breath, without knowing this act of love would save them for eternity. Without knowing this reward of salvation, they stayed tenaciously at the foot of the cross. They watched as Joseph cut the ropes, took out the nails and brought the body down.
They probably knelt before Jesus, helping through tears, as Joseph wrapped the body for burial. The women followed Joseph to the tomb so they would know where they laid Jesus. The women also risked ridicule, at the very least, waiting and watching. But I don’t think what others thought mattered to them. They wanted to honor the body by doing what was customary by applying the spices for final burial. But they could not at that moment. They must wait for the Sabbath to be over.
Mark 15, NLT
The Death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”
37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The Burial of Jesus
42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, 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.
GOING DEEPER STILL…(With the help of Warren Wiersbe)
It is thrilling to read the witness of the Roman centurion, especially when you consider that his words could have gotten him into trouble with both the Jews and the Romans. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God is one of Mark’s important themes (Mark 1:1, 11; 3:11; 5:7; 9:7; 14:61–62). This makes His servanthood even more wonderful (Phil. 2:1–11).
It is touching to see how the women stood near the cross until the very end. John had also been there, but he had taken Mary, our Lord’s mother, to his own home where he could care for her (John 19:25–27). Faithful women were the last at the cross on Friday and the first at the tomb on Sunday. What a contrast to the disciples, who had boasted that they would die for Him! The church of Jesus Christ owes much to the sacrifice and devotion of believing women.
JOSEPH HAD HELP!
God had a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea, ready to take care of the body of Jesus (Matt. 27:57). He was assisted by Nicodemus, also a member of the council (John 19:38–42). We must not think that these two men suddenly decided to bury Jesus, because what they did demanded much preparation.
To begin with, Joseph had to prepare the tomb in a garden near the place where Jesus died. This tomb was probably not for Joseph himself, since a wealthy man would not likely choose to be buried near a place of execution. The men also had to obtain a large quantity of spices (John 19:39), and this could not be done when the shops were closed for Passover. And all of this had to be done without the council’s knowledge.
LED BY GOD…
It seems evident that God prepared these two men and directed them in their activities. Nicodemus had come to Jesus privately (John 3) and had even defended Him before the council (John 7:45–53). I believe that Joseph and Nicodemus searched the Scriptures together and discovered, led by the Spirit, that the Lamb would die at Passover. It is possible that they were hiding in the new tomb when Jesus died. It was a simple matter for Joseph to go to Pilate for permission to take the body, and for Nicodemus to guard the body until the official release was given. Had these men not acted boldly, the body of Jesus might have been disposed of like rubbish.
It was important that His body be prepared for burial so that the empty grave clothes could be left behind in the tomb (John 20:1–10). Also, the way He was buried fulfilled prophecy (Isa. 53:9). The fact that He was buried is proof that Jesus actually died on the cross, for the Roman officials would not have released the body without proof that Jesus was dead.
IT’S NOT OVER…
Jesus Christ was “delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). A dead Savior cannot save anybody. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is as much a part of the gospel message as His sacrificial death on the cross (1 Cor. 15:1–8). In fact, in the book of Acts, the church gave witness primarily to the resurrection (Acts 1:22; 4:2, 33).
TOMORROW…We will finish Mark with knowing God is truly on our side! But you must know Him to know love, mercy ad grace.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for loving your created so extravagantly and relentlessly. Thank you for exchanging your life, dear Jesus, for mine and for the rest of the world who calls on your Name. Thank you for paying for my sin by taking my deserved punishment. Thank you for loving us this much and beyond. Thank you for those who risk, led by you, because of your love. Lead me.
In Jesus Name, Amen