Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm19970702.htm
MARK: GOSPEL OF THE SERVICE OF CHRIST, GOD'S SERVANT
Part XXV: Learning To Follow Christ As Our Supreme Priority At All Costs
Lesson: Following Christ for the believer takes precedence over legal pressures, over family ties and pressures to the contrary, over what appears to be futile as an endeavor were one to follow Christ on an issue, over personal cultural defilement as other religious bodies identify it, over pressures of unjustly becoming an outcast by other believers and over all financial securities and costs to the contrary.
- There are many worthy causes to which a Christian can give himself. There is the cause of peace in the world, the cause of the community's welfare and even the cause of preserving one's family. In fact, believers are commanded to rel ate to the world, their community and families with certain responsibilities according to various Scriptures. (cf. Gal. 6:10; 1Tim. 5:8).
- However, there is a higher cause that, when pitted against one's relationship to the world, to the community and even to family stands out and demands preferential attention and devotion. That cause is displayed for us in the events surrounding the burial of Jesus in Mark 15:42-46 as follows:
- Learning To Follow Christ As Our Supreme Priority At All Costs, Mark 15:42-46.
- Mark's Gospel was written to guide believers in the Roman Empire who were about to face opposition for their faith as Christians, cf. Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 101. Thus, it is basically pastoral in nature, intended to give guidance for living for Christ in difficult, hostile environs, Ibid.
- Accordingly, the events surrounding Christ's burial as focused on the actions Joseph of Arimathea demonstrate for us the ways and means of making a personal discipleship of Christ take precedence over all other interests, concerns and values as follows:
- When Jesus died, a godly member of the Council who had not consented to the Sanhedrin's decision to crucify Christ was apparently appalled at what had happened to Jesus. At this time with his theological background, we do not know whe ther he still believed Jesus was the Messiah or not, but he certainly knew Jesus was from God, cf. John 3:1-2 with John 19:38-40:
- Joseph of Arimathea was a close associate with Nicodemus since both were involved in burying Jesus according to John 19:38-40.
- Now, Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin along with Joseph of Arimathea believed that Jesus was sent from God due to His Biblically authenticating signs, John 3:1-2.
- Accordingly, Joseph of Arimathea went boldly unto Pilate to beg for Jesus' body for burial. This public boldness was quite costly to Joseph if we consider the following facts:
- Joseph was not related to Jesus. For him then to beg for a body of one who was not his relative for burial rights could have gotten Joseph into legal problems with the powers of state, Ibid., p. 191.
- Besides, Joseph was asking for something that was most likely to be denied as Jesus had died by execution for treason. His effort then appeared to be futile, Ibid.
- Additionally, Joseph risked ceremonial defilement by handling the body of a dead man, something that was a cultural problem for a high member of the Sanhedrin, Ibid.
- Also, such a request signaled to others of the hostile Sanhedrin that Joseph was a follower of Jesus, something that would likely lead to his excommunication, loss of income and position, etc.! (Ibid.)
- Were Joseph to be granted his request, the financial costs of burying Jesus with expensive ointments would be heightened by the fact that this act would also mean a loss of position and quite possibly income. Joseph was not only deali ng with the regular costs of expensive ointments, but of what his act would mean by way of cut off future income in the process!
- However, upon gaining Pilate's official permission to bury the body, Joseph with Nicodemus purchased fine linen, wrapped Jesus' body with expensive ointments and laid his body in a rich man's tomb, Mark 15:45-46 with John 19:38-42 with Isaiah 53:9.
Application: God wants the believer to follow in the shoes of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus -- men who put the cause of God's kingdom above all other causes offered in this life, no matter the cost!