October 01, 2007

Joseph of Arimathaea

After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a man named Joseph from the city of Arimathaea came and begged Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate shocked to hear that Jesus died a couple of hours earlier than the expected time, failed to believe that the message was true. After conformation, Pilate agreed to release the body of Jesus to this man.

Joseph was a devout man known for his good works. He was a counselor. He was also a God fearing man who waited for the kingdom of God i.e. Jesus Christ. Mention of Joseph in the Bible is really short; just 4 verses dedicated in three gospels. Four things about what he did is mentioned in the Bible – he begged for the body of Christ, he took it down from the cross, he wrapped it in clean fine twined linen and he lay it in a new sepulcher that was carved from a single rock.

God really appreciated the small unseen duty that Joseph did. That’s why we read about him in the Bible. When Christ was alive, everyone loved to be there besides him to learn of him, to see miracles, to receive his blessings. But when he died, very few were there to repay him at least by giving him a proper burial.

Through the four things that Joseph did, we see an immense act of worship coming from a true heart that actually recognized the person of Christ. He was in very close fellowship with God. He could see the beauty of Christ even in that marred face on the cross of Calvary. This is the first lesson we need to learn; only by developing a close fellowship with God, will you be able to admire the person of Christ. Only then can we be able to worship Christ in Spirit and in truth.

Next we see him begging for the body of Christ. Here we can see the act of humility. He put away his self, his qualification, his status among the people to come and worship this person who had given him all of those things. Why should Pilate release the body to any one who suddenly comes out of the blue? It was the act of humility that made Pilate to agree upon releasing the body to him. We, when we come to worship Christ, come with all our qualifications, status and oratory gifts to out do the others who have also gathered along with us for worship. Christ accepts worship only from a heart that has no merits of its own. Once the self comes in our worship, that’s when we see only our self and not God. That’s when we begin to see only what kind of a life lived before coming to know Christ rather than seeing the work of Christ in us. Worship is defined as adoration. Understand the meaning of this word itself defines the pattern given to us for worship.

Next we see him removing the body from the cross. While removing it, he might have seen all those scars and bruises that were there all throughout the body. He realized the pain and sufferings that Christ had to go through. He could partly understand the sufferings of Christ. This is the next thing that worship calls us to. Only when we ourselves see the scars and bruises on his body, will we be able to realize the intensity of sufferings that he had to go through. Worship requires us to see the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary, the sufferings which we had to suffer, he took upon himself. Every step that we take in removing the body of Christ from the cross will make to realize more and more the beauty in the work that Christ did for the redemption of our souls.

We then see him wrapping the body in a clean fine twined linen cloth. It was traditional for the priests to wear a linen cloth. Joseph understood the purpose behind the death of Christ. Christ had come in to this world to bridge the gap between God and man. God’s law stated that, without the shedding of blood it is impossible to please God. It was the priest’s duty to plead to God for the forgiveness of a man’s sins, by killing a lamb on the altar. But such kind of forgiveness was temporary and continuous shedding of blood was required. Christ became the Priest and Lamb for our sins, so that once and for all a sacrifice could be made so that we could have forgiveness of our sins. Worship requires us to understand the deity of Christ on the cross of Calvary. He being God Almighty, came down in the form of man, humbled himself even unto death on that cross. He became a Priest for us and an offering for us too. All this again reminds us of the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.

Lastly we see him giving Christ a proper burial. He put him in his own new sepulcher. He gave him an honorable and worthy burial. It was not a very rich burial as we see no spices or ornaments, etc. being used. Neither was many people participating in the burial. So how was in worthy enough for the King of kings? The worship that outpoured from the heart of Joseph was one of the best burials that one could give Christ. Christ accepts something that is from a true heart and considers it great, like we see in the case of the widow who cast in two mites. Christ requires worship that comes from a heart that is sincere and true. We need to give him the honor and glory that’s worthy unto him.

Let’s look back into our lives and see in how many areas we fail and how can our worship be acceptable in the sight of God as a sweet smelling savor.

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