The story of Joseph always stops me and makes me wonder. I wonder what it must have been like to be a secret follower of Jesus during a time when hundreds of people were against him and his teachings, when He was hated, ridiculed, and crucified. All four gospels tell of this moment and what this courageous man did. He was one of the few who disagreed with the leaders, in fact we are told ” He had not consented to the decision and deed of the religious leaders to crucify Jesus” , we are also told he had great courage when he went before Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. I‘m sure he wasn’t well liked for disagreeing with everyone. Joseph was a prominent Jewish man and a member of the high council who believed in Jesus. When we read the scriptures, we mainly remember how the pharisees, sadducees and leaders hated Jesus and wanted him dead. There are two that stand out against the rest: Joseph and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a pharisee and he also followed Jesus…. well, the scripture doesn’t come right out and say that. What do we know about Nicodemus? We know he secretly came to Jesus and asked how he could be saved- or born again, we know he stood up against the leaders and Pharisees when they wanted Jesus arrested (John 7:40-52)and we also know he brought ” a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight”, to wrap the body of Jesus in linen and spices, which was customary at that time. We also know he was with Joseph when he took the body of Jesus down from the cross. I believe there were others who secretly believed, but because of fear, they did not let the others know.
John 3:16– our all time favorite verse, was spoken to Nicodemus – and one of my favorite verses also :”as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” – there’s a lot to study and think about it in that verse.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
The bible tells us that both Nicodemus and Joseph took Jesus down from the cross. These men risked everything – their reputation, their standing, their families, and maybe even more by following Jesus. Nicodemus and Joseph stood out at time when “no one had the courage to speak favorably about him (Jesus) in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders ” Going along with the crowd is easy, but when you stand up for the Lord Jesus, you are not always going to be accepted. The bible doesn’t go into detail, but you can bet that they were rejected, mocked and may have even lost their status and standing for following Jesus. They may have lost their homes, families or even their life for following Jesus. Jesus said “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” and “This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures;‘They hated me without cause.’ and “No prophet is accepted in his own hometown “John 15, Psalm 69:4, 35:19Luke 4:24 John 7:13
Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered Acts 7:52
We must step out in courage as Joseph did – in a world full of people who lie or falsely accuse us for believing in the Lord Jesus Christ…… risking rejection for our belief and proclamation of the Good News. Be ready to stand as gatekeepers and guards over the holiness of God, His Scriptures, and His house – yes, even those in our own churches may hate you, but you must stay true to His Word and Holiness- asking always – is the Fear of the Lord the foundation? Is it Holy? Pure? True? or is it Wordly? Many teachers today are teaching wrong messages and leading many astray with their persuasive word. The only way you will know the truth is if you are reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer.
Are you willing to risk it all for Him?
Are you willing to carry your cross for the Kingdom of heaven?
Are you willing to go against the crowd and the world?
Are you ready to face rejection? To be lied about and falsely accused for your beliefs in Christ? It is already happening in the world around us.
Are you ready?
The days ahead may be filled with great trials to your faith. Remember these warnings:
If you deny Jesus, He will deny you before the Father. You can not be for Jesus and the World; you are either for one and against the other. You cannot follow both the flesh and the Spirit. Don’t be fooled and become lukewarm.
The story of Joseph and the moment Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross
(taken from 4 gospels )
Now when evening had come and because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day) that the bodies were to be taken down and not remain on the cross. Joseph of Arimathea (which was a city of the Jews) came to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a rich man, a disciple of Jesus in secret, for fear of the Jews. He was a good and just man, a council member who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. He was a prominent council member and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. He had not consented to the decision and deed of the religious leaders to crucify Jesus.
Now, Joseph took up great courage and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead, and summoned the centurion and asked if He had been dead for some time. The soldiers were sent out and came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” (John 19)
So when Pilate found that Jesus was dead from the centurion, he gave permission and granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought fine linen and took Jesus down from the cross. There was also, Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Joseph wrapped and bound Jesus in clean linen cloth strips with the spices that Nicodemus brought. This was the custom of the Jews in burial. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. And Joseph laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb and departed .
So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses sitting opposite the tomb observed where He was laid. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
Other examples of great courage
1. Moses – risked his life for the Israelites
6. Daniel – refused to stop praying to God, even though the punishment was death
7. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- refused to bow down to another god, risking life
9 Jeremiah- continued to speak for the Lord even though he was hated, mocked and put in prison
10. All the prophets
14. Stephen (Acts 7)
The list goes on and on… Abraham, Joseph, Hannah, Ruth, Gideon, Peter, how can I name them all? The Word of God is full of men and women of great courage.
My vision of this moment:
I saw this in a vision two years ago. I saw it as if it were a slide show – picture by picture as if I was standing off at a distance to the side- a panoramic view as if I was there. I thought this verse was interesting ” But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.” because I, too, was standing off at a distance watching this. I could see a panoramic view of everything until the end where I was hovering, as if in spirit, above the body of Jesus as they carried Him away.
At first I saw the cross and on it, I saw the Lord, who has already died. The skies were dark like a dark night and from the right side of the cross moved in a great dark cloud covering all the sky, making the land even darker as it passed by. The Lord’ body hung limp with his head hanging to his left side. Then I saw a bald man standing and looking up to him in the dark, at first he was alone. I saw no one else there. The nails in the hand were taken out first because I could see the body of Jesus hanging limp over the head of the bald man while his feet were still nailed into the cross. Next the nails in the feet were taken out. Then suddenly, I was no longer looking from a distance, but now it was as if I was floating above them. I looked down and saw the Lord wrapped in a white linen, but I could see his face because only his body was wrapped in the linen. I saw Joseph and 5-6 other men put the body of Jesus in a wooden box with no top. Together they lifted and carried it-much like the box of a coffin –but with no cover and just plain wood. As I hovered over I could 6-7 men carrying the box with Jesus in it. The last thing I saw was the face of Jesus. His face was not wrapped. I could see his eyes, and his features. As I hovered above, I was frozen in awe. I wrote about it in Don’t let the sun go down on your anger it was lesson on forgiveness – considering what the Lord did for me.
- Having hope gives you courage
- Strongholds weaken courage
- only God can revive our courage
- courage is given to those of a repentant heart
- strength and courage go with faith as you stand firm
- God’s courage will help you declare the Good News boldly in spite of great opposition
- you must remain in fellowship with Christ if you want to be full of courage
- the Lord wants us to be full of courage- never shrinking back from Him in shame
Will he find you full of courage when He returns? You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near