Musings of a Christian Geek about the Word, Geek Culture, Science, Music, Movies, and anything that is deemed noteworthy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Jesus’ Name: The Voice of the Conquerors

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
                                                      -Psalm  116:15

The preceding verse is a passage in the Word which has been misunderstood throughout history. Through time immemorial, individuals have interpreted this verse in Psalm to say that God considered dying for Him very near and dear to His heart. While dying for Christ can be an admirable endeavor and those who have done will have their reward according to Revelation 20:4. God would much rather have us live for Him.

The Hebrew word for precious in this verse is the word, yakar, meaning heavy as in price or costly. So, if we look at Psalm 116:15 with consideration for yakar, heavy in price or costly is the death of His saints. This kind of puts the word precious in a different light, doesn’t it?  Apparently, it costs God a lot to lose one of His people because we have a job to do on Earth. 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

How can we do our job as ambassadors as dead men and women? Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect and admiration for those willing to die for Christ and much has been written about those who have paid the ultimate price. My recommendation would be to check out John Foxe’s Voice of the Martyrs. However, I want to highlight those who have stood up for God and Jesus Christ and lived to tell the tale and not just lived but triumphed. As it says in Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Thus, I am starting a new series on this blog recognizing the conquerors of history. For the first conqueror, I would like to bring into focus the first conqueror chronologically speaking which I will mention: Joseph of Arimathaea.

Joseph of Arimathaea 

Let me paint a picture of the moment of time in which our conqueror is brought into the picture according to the four Gospels. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is dead; His Twelve Apostles are hiding for fear of the Jews; and darkness is spread on the face of the Earth. Many of His disciples don’t know what to make of the fact that their Savior did not restore the kingdom to Israel. However, one man seems to share a different sentiment and this man was Joseph of Arimathaea. We pick up the story from Mark 15:43-46:

Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

This might seem like a small deed in hindsight, but Joseph going in unto Pontius Pilate is tremendously significant. Joseph was a counselor of the Jews, a member of the Sanhedrin. and when he went to Pilate, Joseph became unclean. So what? Well, being unclean not allow him to partake in the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was a big no-no at that time. This shows how much belief Joseph of Arimathaea had in the Jesus’ resurrection. Not even Christ’s Twelve Apostles had that kind of belief at the time. Amazing, isn’t it?

Another sign of the Joseph’s tremendous belief in Christ’s resurrection is the fact Joseph of Arimathaea does not even bury Christ in the traditional Judean fashion. He only wraps the body in linen. Luke 23:53, “And he took it [the body of Jesus] down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.” Many people believe Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea buried Christ’s body together according to John 19:39, “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.” However, looking at the four Gospels together, this is simply not the case.

Matthew 27:59-60, “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

Mark 15:46,” And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.”

None of the verses in Luke, Matthew, and Mark ever mention Joseph of Arimathaea using spices to bury Jesus or burying Jesus with Nicodemus. Thus, John is mentioning a time after Joseph has already rolled the stone in place when Nicodemus comes again to bury Jesus properly according to Jewish custom. When taken through this context, Joseph’s deeds stand in even higher regard. He is willing to believe in Christ’s words even when His closest followers are hiding in fear or not willing to believe. Joseph of Arimathaea deserves recognition as a conqueror in Jesus’ name.