Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah – which will bring you unto life eternal.”
“Keep yourselves in the love of God. This is the richest and sweetest direction of the Holy Scriptures, continually to be realizing God’s love. It is a difficult lesson, sometimes, to spell out God’s love in our trials; but as the child begins with the alphabet, and then passes on to syllables and longer words, till by degrees all reading becomes easy to it, so in trying to learn God’s love in everything will it open out clearly and beautifully, till by degrees we see the most wonderful love in our hardest trials; real, full, persevering, constant, unfathomable, unsearchable love in all His dealings with us, whether in the shining sun of prosperity, or in the dark cloud of adversity.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
1. “Now notice, there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, the Sanhedrin, and a good, upright, advantageous man and righteous, in right standing with God and man, who had not agreed with or assented to the purpose and action of the others, and he was expecting and waiting for the Kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took (Jesus) down and rolled (His body) up in a linen cloth for swathing dead bodies and laid Him in a rock hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid.”
Luke 23: 50-53
2. “And after this, Joseph of Arimathea – a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate granted him permission. So he came and took away (Jesus’) body. And Nicodemus also, who first had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about 100 pounds. So they (Joseph and Nicodemus) took Jesus’ body and bound it in linen cloths with the spices (aromatics), as in the Jew’s customary way to prepare for burial. Now there was a garden in the place where (Jesus) was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever yet been laid. So there…they laid Jesus.”
John 19: 38-42
“Lest I Forget” – Part 8
“Show Me the Tomb Where Thou Wast Laid”
“A generous action is its own reward.”
How do I think I would have reacted when I witnessed two “high-powered” leaders coming to Jesus aid when He was crucified?
What does Joseph and Nicodemus’ act of generosity tell me about their love for Jesus?
“A holy life and a bounteous heart are ornaments to the Gospel.”
“We have in (John 19) an account of the burial of the blessed body of our Lord Jesus. The solemn funerals of great men are usually looked at with curiosity; the mournful funerals of dear friends are attended with concern. Come and see an extraordinary funeral; never the like! Come and see a burial that conquered the grave, and buried it, a burial that beautified the grave and softened it for all believers. Let us turn aside now, and see this great sight”
“Show Me the Tomb Where Thou Wast Laid”
It was late Friday afternoon. The body of Jesus hung limp upon the cross. The crowds were leaving, especially the Jewish worshippers preparing for the Sabbath.
It is at this point in time where we wonder what will happen to the body of our dear Saviour. I’ve often thought about the Almighty God, looking down at His precious Son. How His gracious heart must have been shredded by the careless way mere mortals treated His gift of redemption.
As I prepared for this devotional, I came upon a small book entitled Weep Not For Me by John V. Taylor. I could not make it through the words he had written without grabbing a Kleenex and wiping the tears rolling down my cheeks. His words of clarity bring the message of God’s suffering along with that of His Son right into my mind and heart:
“On the cross – there was no intervention, only the terrible silence and a gazing into the darkness. And on either side of that silence there was pain – the human suffering and the divine as God and Jesus held firm to the intention that had been there before the foundation of the world: Love bent on creating the possibility of an answering love.”
What an amazing message radiates from that cruel wooden tree – love overcomes. But love doesn’t just overcome evil. Love motivates the good. Love propels the hearts of God’s precious children, beneficiaries of His eternal goodness, mercy and long-suffering kindness.
Nowhere do we see the working of grace in the human heart more prevalent than on the Friday afternoon upon Calvary’s crest. Amid the chaotic response of man and nature, there were two men, unknown disciples of Jesus up to that point in time, who stepped forward and said, “Jesus belongs to me.”
This story not only touches my heart, but it brings up a memory in my own mind. Over 30 years ago, after my dad died so suddenly, celebrating the holidays, especially Christmas, just wasn’t the same. So Jim and I came up with the idea of inviting four elderly ladies we had become acquainted with through the years, to spend Christmas Eve with us. I can’t begin to put into words how much fun we had surprising these ladies with some special gifts. As time passed, age made it impossible to continue the tradition. Finally, just one of the women was alive and living in a very lovely skilled-nursing facility. Every time Jim and I made our way to California we would stop in to see our precious friend Edna and on one of the last visits, my nursing history kicked in and before leaving, I went out to the Nurse’s Station and checked to make certain we were notified if anything happened to Edna, for not only was she a widow but her only son had died as well.
Several weeks later, I got a call on my cell phone. It seems Edna had passed away and the individuals who were managing her estate (which was smaller than small), had left town without notice. Providentially, the Chaplain at the facility knew Jim and me and called us. Let me just tell you, I can get pretty upset when something happens that hurts the ones I love and after several phone calls, dearest Edna’s body was released into our care and within a few days, she was laid to rest on a grassy knoll surrounded by her dear friends singing “Amazing Grace.”
The caring thoughtfulness we give those we love, not only in their lives but in their death as well, tells a lot about how the refining grace and mercy of Jesus pours its oil through our hearts. This is why the story of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus shines down through time and illuminates our lives with the fact that loving Jesus not only reforms our hearts but transforms them as well.
These two men were powerful and persuasive leaders in the Sanhedrin. Some Bible commentators take them to task for not speaking up on behalf of Jesus; possibly even trying to thwart His death. But I look upon these two men, who the Bible refers to as “disciples,” as the boldest followers of Jesus for when our Saviour was hanging lifeless, it was these well-connected men of stature who did not let any fear of reprisal by the Roman government or the Jewish leadership deter them from their mission. We read that Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked to provide for the care and keeping of Jesus. And Nicodemus came right along with myrrh and aloes – 100 pounds – for the embalming of Jesus’ body. While some Biblical students may feel these two men were “late” in coming to Jesus, I believe their influence and immense love was shown at the perfect time for as one author noted, “The most honored in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect (than Jesus) in death…The help of these rich and honored men was greatly needed at this time.”
Just put yourself in the position of Joseph and Nicodemus as they gently removed the lifeless, battered body of Jesus off the cross. I believe it was with unimagined respect and care that they carried their dear Master to the tomb Joseph had acquired for himself. A tomb near Calvary and as Scripture states, a new, unused tomb. As I reflect on their generosity in giving to Jesus my thoughts can’t help but go back to Jesus’ birth when a manger for animals was the only place a busy inn-keeper could find to cradle the Son of God. I’ve asked myself, “Would I have been willing to give my room for the baby Jesus? And would I have given my tomb to hold His body?” Sir Henry Talor says that the “essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.” And in the act of taking care of their Saviour, the lives of Joseph and Nicodemus were forever changed. The author Susan Sayers, in her touching call to service, “Let the Story Be Told” pens this call to generosity of heart:
“The story of love He came to tell us,
bound in the making of the world.
We are the pages still unwritten;
let the story be told.
If we try to avoid inconvenient giving,
or if love is destroyed by our failure to serve,
then let the wide, unflinching, selfless giving
of the God who walked the earth
nourish our roots until we bear fruit
in the joy of the Lord.”
Lest we forget – may our thoughts be called back to that bleak Friday in history where we find two well-dressed, wealthy gentlemen, with their arms filled with the body of their beloved Saviour who changed their hearts forever. May we too have the courage and love to say, “Jesus belongs to me.”
“Lord Jesus, our Saviour, let us now come to Thee;
Our hearts are cold;
Lord, warm them with Thy selfless love.
Our hearts are sinful;
cleanse them with Thy precious blood.
Our hearts are weak;
strengthen them with Thy joyous Spirit.
Our hearts are empty;
fill them with Thy divine presence.
Lord Jesus, our hearts are Thine;
possess them always and only for Thyself.”
Augustine of Hippo
Now I Belong to Jesus
“Jesus, my Lord will love me forever
From Him no power of evil can sever
He gave His life to ransom my soul
Now I belong to Him.
Now I belong to Jesus
Jesus belongs to me
Not for the years of time alone
But for eternity.
Once I was lost in sin’s degradation
Jesus came down to bring me salvation
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame
Now I belong to Him.
Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me
His precious blood, He came to redeem
Now I belong to Him.”
Norman J. Clayton
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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