Friday, April 12, 2019

The Courageous Word


Mark 15:42-47
And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.  And summoning a centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.  And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.  And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock.  And he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.

In his sermon entitled The Courageous Word, Pastor Graham features the story of Joseph of Arimathea as an example of what it means to be a Christ follower.

Joseph is the creme de la creme in Jewish society.  As a member of the Sanhedrin, he is highly honored and well thought of by his peers.  His knowledge of the Law and the Prophets, we can assume, is impeccable.  Joseph undoubtedly believes that God will one day send a Messiah to save His people.

Enter Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher, healer, miracle worker.  Along with the Pharisees and Sadducees, Joseph witnesses Jesus' authoritative teaching in the temple first hand.  But unlike his cohorts, who feel threatened by this upstart, Joseph is intrigued.  Could this man actually be the promised Messiah?  The Son of the living God?

Joseph, for obvious reasons, keeps his thoughts to himself.  Yet, we can imagine that he spends countless hours deliberating Jesus' identity, praying to know the truth.  Has God's kingdom arrived at last?

The scriptures do not tell us when or how Joseph of Arimathea became a believer, a disciple of Christ, but his actions on the day of Jesus' crucifixion speak volumes.  At the peril of being shunned and denounced by his contemporaries, and perhaps, stripped of his rank, Joseph boldly approaches Pilate and asks for Jesus' body so it can be honorably buried in a proper tomb.

At long last, Joseph is willing to sacrifice his earthly accolades and his standing with the elites to do the right thing in God's eyes.  If that means losing his place on the fast track of success, so be it.

So Pastor Graham challenges us, as Christians, to speak up and act with courage on the Lord's behalf in our daily lives.  Christians, he states, should be willing to risk the loss of worldly acclaim to stand firm in the faith.

This certainly give me pause for some serious thought and reflection.  Do I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength?  Am I willing to proclaim the Word of God with courage, even if it means losing my status in the world's eye?

Maybe, my friends, there are questions we should all ponder deeply during this Lenten season, as we prepare for the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Day.

And I wonder . . .

What was Joseph of Arimathea's reaction when he got word of the empty tomb?

I can only imagine that it was one of overwhelming joy!

Amen!

22 comments:

  1. Pastor Graham is wise.

    Do we really have the courage to stand up for our beliefs? When some friends, or colleagues at work, mock Christianity, do we stand up and say what we believe? Or do we put our head down so as not to be noticed?

    Here in the UK the latter scenario prevails. I was leading a discussion in our church group. I asked: "If someone stopped you in the street and asked you who is/was Jesus. What would you say?"

    Very few would admit that He is the Son of God. "We don't say things like that to strangers!" they said. These are Christians, attending church each Sunday, wishing their children to be brought up as Christians! (I wondered why).

    Over here, a politician who proclaims he is a Christian would not get far in politics.

    God bless you, Martha.

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    1. That is such a sad state of affairs, Victor, and it's becoming like that here in parts of the U.S., too. We must pray that God opens our hearts and minds to share the Good News of Christ and the kingdom of love and grace that God extends to all of us. With God walking with us, we have nothing to fear.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. I have never had a problem sharing the gospel and often it has happened when God encouraged me to speak to someone in particular. I have many stories along that line and they are an encouragement to other Christians to step out of their comfort zone -- like the time I felt compelled to motion someone off the highway who was driving next to me. I didn't know why but knew God wanted me to. When we pulled over and I went to her car, she was crying and said she was going to commit suicide that day. I was able to lead her to Jesus right there.

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    1. Oh, wow, Carol, what a powerful story you have shared here with us! I'm so glad you've never hesitated to speak to others about the Lord, and how He has moved mightily in your life. We all need to speak up boldly on behalf of God's great love.
      Love and blessings!

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  3. I love your gentle nudges to ponder our own what if's. Thank you, Martha.

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    1. You are most welcome, Myra. So glad you enjoyed today's post, my friend.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Martha, a challenging post. I agree, this certainly give me pause for some serious thought and reflection. Do I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength? Am I willing to proclaim the Word of God with courage, even if it means losing my status in the world's eye?

    Something to linger over in my quiet time.

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    1. It is something to linger over, Beckie, and goodness knows, I have done the same. My heart was so convicted as I listened to Pastor Graham's words last Sunday, and though our blogs do much to touch hearts, I felt I still wasn't doing enough for the kingdom. Let's vow to keep our hearts and minds open to the possibilities and opportunities God presents to us.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Powerful thoughts, Martha. And yes, Joseph risked much by offering a burial place for Jesus, labeled a criminal. I love how it played such a vital role in the Resurrection and in how prophecy came to be fulfilled.

    And there is a lesson here for true Christ-followers as Pastor Graham suggests. To follow Jesus is to take up our cross daily...to count the cost...to lose our life to gain it.

    Thanks for such a beautiful reminder!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! The tomb did play such a vital role in the Easter story, and we can all rejoice that Joseph was willing to follow through, no matter what the cost. And as you say here, we need to take up our cross daily, willing to lose our lives to gain them.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Great questions near the end, Martha. :-)

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  7. Two fo my constant prayers, Martha ... that the Lord will help me love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that He will give me the courage I need to go and tell! Blessings my friend!

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    1. Amen, Deb, and prayers all of us should say frequently! You do such an amazing job spreading God's kingdom through your wonderful blog.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. I imagine he was overjoyed, too! Can you imagine? May God bless you this beautiful Easter season!

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    1. Thank you, Cheryl, and may your family be blessed this Easter, too!
      Love and blessings!

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  9. Amen! I’d say he was humbled and ecstatic!! As we too should always be!!!

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    1. Yes, we should all be both ecstatic and humbled at this glorious time.
      Love and blessings!

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  10. Joseph must have been filled with awed, praise, joy, and humility.

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  11. Martha, I do apologize for being so very late in reading and commenting on this thoughtful post. Pastor Graham shared many amazing and deep thoughts. Joseph was a brave man who clearly counted the cost of following Jesus and found the cost worth it. As for what he thought of the empty tomb--all of Jesus' friends, disciples were rather confused, so much hunch Joseph was likely confused too--grief can really make it hard to understand things.

    May we all count the cost of following Jesus and find the cost worth it in the end. And as we share Jesus with others, let's not forget to mention the need to count the cost.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. Kim, I really like your take on this. Yes, just as the disciples were confused at first, I'm sure it took a while for reality to sink in for Joseph, too. Grief can be overwhelming to the mind and the spirit. May we all be thankful for Joseph's willingness to count the cost of following Jesus, and act on it.
      Love and blessings!

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