Not Quite Everyone
In propaganda, you paint your enemy in bold strong colors. From your perspective the group you’re against and everyone in it is evil, and you consistently present them in this role.
In Mark Jesus’ enemies are the chief priests, the religious legal experts, and the elders controlling the Temple worship in Jerusalem. Their attack begins accusing him of blasphemy when he claims to be able to forgive sins (Mk. 2:6-7). A group of these lawyers, members of the Pharisaic party, attack Jesus for hanging around with the wrong kind of people (Mark 2:16-17) and their opposition increases when Jesus continues to heal on the Sabbath (Mark 3:20ff).
When Jesus begins the Passover week cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem his enemies solidify their opposition (Mark 11:18), Judas solves their problem with the crowds (Mark 14:10), and their jealousy places Jesus in Pilate’s hands (Mark 15:10).
It’s the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that handed Jesus over to the Romans (Mark 15:1), and even while Jesus is hanging on the cross they can’t let it go. They keep mocking his claim to be their Messiah and their King (Mark 15:31-32).
It’s clear. From Mark’s perspective these are the “bad guys,” but is the entire group breaking bad? They might have thought they had an absolute majority, but at least one member of their group was still on the good side. Look what he does when Jesus’ lifeless corpse hangs in the dark at Golgotha.
“Now it was already getting dark on the Preparation Day, the day before the Sabbath. Knowing this, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Jerusalem Council and a man expectantly waiting for the Kingdom of God, boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, so he summoned the centurion and asked him to verify that Jesus was truly dead. When the centurion assured him, Pilate gave Jesus’ corpse to Joseph. Now he had purchased a linen cloth. He used it to wrap up the body and placed him in the tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was placed.” Mark 15:42-47
In the present ideological wars you don’t suddenly take someone from your opposition party and make them the lead character in a key episode playing the role of a good guy. Yet that’s what Mark does, and it’s how we know that Mark wasn’t spinning propaganda to bolster a lie. The Jerusalem religious leaders consistently rejected Jesus as a group, but not everyone. A key member cared about God’s Kingdom, about Jesus, and boldly did something about it. Mark reported this because this is what actually happened. And I need to learn not to make too quick a judgment about who might or might not be on Jesus’ side. You never know when a Joseph of Arimathea might show up in your life story.
LORD, thanks for the powerful men and women with means who have supported Mary and me down through the years in helping others to track your Story revealed in the Bible. Thanks that you keep surprising us with special people, like Joseph of Arimathea, who do love you and come through at strategic moments.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!