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Joseph of Arimathaea
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.              Introduction

A.   Joseph of Arimathaea is only mentioned in a handful of verses in the New Testament

                                          i.    Yet, those few verses are found in all four gospel accounts

                                        ii.    His decision to bury Jesus was one of great significance

B.   The saving gospel is made up of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

                                          i.    Sometimes we emphasize the death and resurrection but not the burial

                                        ii.    However, the burial is a critical part of the gospel as well

1.    It gave credibility to the resurrection

a.    Skeptics would say Christ was simply unconscious from the pain and not really dead

b.    Jesus was really dead because He was buried for three days

2.    It gives substance to baptism (Romans 6:4)

a.    In baptism we are buried with Christ

b.    Christ was buried because He died and we are buried because we are dead to sin (repentance)

c.    Without a burial there is no death

3.    It is a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 53:9)

a.    Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be buried with the rich and not the wicked

b.    The Romans thought of Him as a wicked criminal like the thieves on both sides

c.    However, Joseph was that rich man who buried Him according to Godís Will

C.   Josephís story can be found in Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46, Luke 23:50-53, and John 19:38-42

                                          i.    Consider seven lessons with me that we learn from the story of Joseph of Arimathaea

II.            Joseph was a counsellor (Luke 23:50)

A.   Joseph was part of the highest Jewish court, the Sanhedrin Council

                                          i.    Now the Romans did not care if criminals were buried and skulls were everywhere

1.    This was yet another reason why the place was called Golgotha

                                        ii.    The Jews knew that Godís law required them to bury the dead (Deut 21:23)

1.    Joseph knew the scriptures and knew what needed to be done

2.    I wonder why one of the eleven apostles or another close disciple didnít take down the body

3.    Even knowing the position Joseph was in and the persecution he might receive he still took down Jesusí body

B.   Sometimes there might be a job that no one seems to be doing

                                          i.    You can either avoid that work as well since no one else is doing it either

                                        ii.    Or you can be like Joseph and take care of it yourself

III.           Joseph was an honorable counsellor (Mark 15:43)

A.   Joseph did not consent to Jesusí death (Luke 23:51)

                                          i.    Although he was surrounded by a corrupted court system he did not join in with agreement

                                        ii.    These people were selfish and cared about nothing more than their own power (John 11:46-48)

B.   Maybe he recalled the words of Moses who told them not to follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2)

                                          i.    Maybe he remembered Noah who stood alone in a world of unrighteousness

                                        ii.    Or he might have remembered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who did not bow to the idol when all others did

                                       iii.    Joseph, like Paul, knew that he plus God was the majority (2 Tim 4:17)

IV.          Joseph was a good and just man (Luke 23:50)

A.   He wasnít good in the absolute sense

                                          i.    Only God is good (Mark 10:17-18)

                                        ii.    He was good in the ordinary sense

B.   All of us are sheep who have gone astray in sin (Isa 53:6, Rom 3:23)

                                          i.    But through Christ we can still be good and just people

                                        ii.    Instead of giving up and allowing sin to win we can fight Satan to be a good neighbor, to be kind, to love, to obey, and be faithful to God

V.           Joseph waited for the kingdom (Mark 15:43)

A.   At this point the kingdom had not yet come

                                          i.    This kingdom was the church (Matt 16:18-19)

                                        ii.    Notice Paul and John lived when the kingdom came and were part of it (Col 1:13, Rev 1:9)

B.   Joseph anxiously awaited for the kingdom

                                          i.    He knew it was coming because of Danielís prophecy (Dan 2:44)

                                        ii.    He knew it would be soon because John the Baptist and Jesus were preaching thus (Matt 3:2, 4:17, Mark 9:1)

C.   You show me someone today with this excitement about the church and I will show you someone who is involved with the work

                                          i.    Sometimes we lose our excitement about things over time

                                        ii.    But we canít let that happen with the church

                                       iii.    We must love the church and show that through our zeal

VI.          Joseph was a rich man (Matt 27:57)

A.   He likely had servants and certainly friends in his position

                                          i.    Notice he didnít delegate this work to his servants or anyone else

                                        ii.    Other than Nicodemus, who brought some oils, it appears Joseph took care of Christís burial alone

1.    He had to remove the nails

2.    He had to wrap the body and clean it

3.    He had to carry it and lay it in the sepulcher

B.   I think Joseph did all this work himself because he understood that some things must be done personally in my relationship with my Lord

                                          i.    Sometimes you need help and delegating isnít always a bad thing

                                        ii.    But other things must be done personally

1.    No one can study my Bible for me

2.    No one can do all my praying for me

3.    No one can worship my God for me (John 4:23-24)

VII.         Joseph made personal sacrifices (Mark 15:46)

A.   Not only did he do the work but he paid the cost as well

                                          i.    Consider the cost of a funeral

1.    He bought the covering and a brand new sepulcher for our Lord

2.    This would have been a costly investment like it is today

B.   What sacrifices do we make for our Lord?

                                          i.    Do we sacrifice financially or simply give God what is left?

                                        ii.    Do we let go of friendships we ought not have or have our cake and eat it too?

C.   Remember that all we have comes from God (Jam 1:17)

                                          i.    The money we make is thanks to Godís blessings

                                        ii.    The talents we have are thanks to Godís blessings

                                       iii.    The time we have are thanks to Godís blessings

                                       iv.    Everything we are and have are because of Him so ďsacrificingĒ if really just giving portions back to our Father

VIII.       Joseph was no longer secretive (John 19:38, Mark 15:43)

A.   He had been a disciple in secret up to this point for rea of the Jews (John 19:38)

                                          i.    Now he went to Pilate boldly (Mark 15:43)

                                        ii.    His life was changed by our Lordís death

B.   I suppose he was remorseful for having not spoken up before

                                          i.    Maybe he witnessed that kangaroo court and was sad he didnít stand up for Him

                                        ii.    Either way he now was public about His love for Him

C.   Do our friends and employees know we are Christians?

                                          i.    Or are we afraid of their reaction (John 12:42-43)

                                        ii.    Does the Lordís death motivate you to be open about your love for Him?

IX.          Conclusion

A.   What would you have done if you were in Josephís shoes that day?

B.   The answer can be found by asking another question:

                                          i.    What are you doing now?

                                        ii.    Who you are right now is who you would have been then