“Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but secretly because he feared the Jews.” John 19:38

“He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night…” John  19:39

In so much of Jesus ministry on this earth, He spent time with, He healed, He extolled the virtues of helping the poor.  At the same time Jesus was warning against the hazards that come from being worldly wealthy and powerful.  How the power of this world corrupts as well as great wealth can fool you into thinking you don’t need God.

Yet Jesus preached to all.  It was His preaching that so inflamed and enraged the Jewish Religious establishment.  Jesus also listened.  He listened to the questions of his accusers.  When Jesus chastised them for their behavior and showed them where their understanding of God’s scripture and God’s plan was wrong, it was not out of spite, arrogance or a prideful desire to glorify Himself (he did not need to do so).  No, Jesus loved them as well.  He wanted to reach them with God’s word so that they might also see the light of love that Jesus was.  We can see this in the examples of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea was not a poor man.  In doing some research, two things are consistently noted about him.  First, Joseph was a person of some wealth.  Second Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin was a legal body, something like a court/counsel that heard cases of both a criminal and civil nature of Jewish people during the time of Christ.  It was made up of 70 men who were the elite of society of the time.  Some held high religious office while others were powerful societal figures.  It was the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to death and turned Him over to Pilot for execution.  The bible tells us that there was contention within the Sanhedrin over Jesus and what to do with Him.  The most powerful within the Sanhedrin; the High Priest, Caiaphas, and his followers vehemently wanted Jesus crucified.  They not only had the power to get their way but also had the power to destroy anyone who seriously opposed them.  Thus, we don’t know how much Joseph of Arimathea openly worked to free Jesus.  We also know, that since it was God’s will and Jesus’ perfect obedience that He die for our sins, no matter of defense was going to “free” Jesus. This we also know is true, for Scripture tells us, Joseph heard Jesus.  Joseph believed Jesus.  Joseph even loved Jesus.  And when it came time to stand up; to do the right thing, at least for Jesus body, for His burial, Joseph came forward to claim the body and make sure that Jesus received a proper burial.

Nicodemus was also not a poor man; not a man without power.  The bible tells us that Nicodemus was a Pharisee; a powerful Jewish religious sect who made pronouncements on purity and the Torah.  Nicodemus was also on the ruling council.  This is the same ruling council that plotted and then carried out the trial, condemning Jesus to death.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, calling Jesus a “good teacher”.  Coming out of this conversation is one of the most oft quoted and powerful sayings of Jesus:  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)  Yet it is easy to tell by Nicodemus’ questions that he doesn’t understand the spiritual aspect of being spiritually born again.  There is no record that Nicodemus left shouting the praises of Jesus as the Son of God.  Yet Nicodemus heard.  Nicodemus believed.  Nicodemus brings precious oils and spices and along with Joseph of Arimathea, risks the condemnation of the Jewish High Council by honoring Jesus with a proper burial.

Yes many powerful men despised Jesus.  Many rich men turned away and would not follow Jesus.  Though it was the crowd, made up of all kinds, rich and poor, men and women, joining their voices to call out Crucify Him! Crucify Him!  And just when we think that we have found one class of people whom we are correct in judging harshly; we’re correct in condemning and hating this class of people; in steps Joseph, out steps Nicodemus.

Jesus is not just for the poor.  Jesus is not just for the Jews or anyone but the Jews.  Jesus Christ is just not for……anyone.  Jesus Christ is for all.  So if you are poor and reading this; rejoice!  Jesus has called you blessed.  If you are reading this and are wealthy; do not despair.  If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  If you know that you are a sinner (as are we all) and repent.  If you put your trust in God Almighty and not in your worldly wealth.  Jesus is for you or it should be better said; you are for Jesus, as well.

It is true that the world and the prince of this world, our enemy, will use the acquiring of wealth against us.  The world will try with all if its might to have you see worldly wealth as all that is necessary for happiness, to get you to worship wealth if it can.  Yet no matter what the size of your bank account, if you see the only real treasure as the treasure of faith, love, service and obedience to God that comes from and is stored in heaven, then you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and there is no greater blessing.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim that it is true that all things come from You.  We thank You Most Merciful Father that you call all of us to follow you.  We praise You that You sent Your Son out of Love for the World and not just particular pieces of it.  Forgive us Dear Father when we let earthly things like wealth, power and possessions get in the way of following you.  Also forgive us when we judge others as unworthy based upon our perception of their wealth or power.  Bring us all together in Your Holy Name showing us that there is no treasure other than Your Love and no power equal or greater than You.  That Your Name will be praised above all others.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

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