April 7 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 23)

Submitted by Jessica C. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 23:50-56

Jesus’ Burial

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Good and upright man

Though the verses here are few and we don’t know too much about him, I think he stands out among the many other characters in the Passion account. Unlike the Pharisees and other members of the Council, whose hatred and envy towards Jesus drove them to unfairly try Jesus and seek his crucifixion, he “had not consented to their decision and action.” Instead of just going along with their plans, he had the courage to stand up and oppose what they were doing. Unlike Pilate who decided to compromise on truth out of fear of what it might cost him in terms of his position, Joseph took a bold step in asking for Jesus’ body in order to give him a proper burial. This would have marked him as being a follower of Jesus, and was a risky move where he could have jeopardized his position. At a period when there was so much controversy and fervor surrounding Jesus, and things were probably still tense in the moments after Jesus’ death, what Joseph did here was really bold. And unlike the rest of Jesus’ disciples who had all fled, run away and were in hiding, Joseph came out, identifying himself as a disciple, and gave him a proper burial.

Joseph is described here as a “good and upright man,” I think, because of the set of choices and actions that he ended up taking–the willingness to take risks and receive potential criticism and opposition as a result of seeking to give Jesus proper honor as Lord and Savior. I was reminded that this is the basis upon which I need to measure what it means to be “good and upright.” That being “good and upright” isn’t based on some sort of status/position or how closely I’m following the rules. But instead, being “good and upright” is measured based on concrete action and steps that I take in order to give Jesus proper honor in my life. And many times, these actions require risk-taking. As a Christian, it might mean risking the approval and relational peace with family members, coworkers, or friends, because they do not share the same values and worldview as you. For college students these days where post-modernism finds its way in the classroom, and sexual sins and loose culture abounds in the college scene, it will certainly mean having to stick out, say no, set boundaries, live counter-culturally and thereby, boldly mark yourself as a disciple of Christ. For me, as a spiritual leader, it’s going to mean risking at times the relational harmony that I have with people I’m ministering to, in order to speak the truth in love, to help them deal with certain glaring sin issues that they may not see, or to challenge certain areas in their lives that are not honoring to God. At a gut level, I don’t like doing this, because I want peace and harmony in my relationships with people. But God’s called me to be a minister to His people, and striving to carry out that calling as Scripture describes, is one way in which I can honor him. Honor him through choosing His truth above my own emotions and desires. Honor him above all the other things the world says that I should honor–family, money, career, time and energy. Honor him through fully embracing my role as a minister, and helping to bring God honor not just in my life but also in the lives of those I’m ministering to.

Submitted by Michael K. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 23:50-56

Jesus’ Burial

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

·     Joseph is described as a good and upright man.  Given what he proceeds to do, what does it mean to be a good and upright man?

Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He had not consented to the council’s decision to charge Jesus with blasphemy and have him crucified. And now, he was not only showing dissent from the majority opinion but was revealing himself to be a disciple of Jesus by going boldly to Pilate and asking for Jesus’ body. This shows that being a good and upright person is about doing what is right and proper no matter what the cost. As a member of the Council, Joseph had a lot to lose. Perhaps he would be kicked out of his position for siding with the enemy, and face persecution for being one of Jesus’ disciples. And yet, because he was in the position of being able to do something for Jesus, he went to Pilate and asked for the body so that he could honor Jesus with this burial. If Joseph had not done this, he probably would have remained in hiding and saved himself and his reputation, but would have missed a significant opportunity. What makes his action appropriate and beautiful is that it is consistent with someone actually devoted to Jesus – not giving in to fear or measuring out some token of loyalty, weighing it against potential negative consequences. It would have been tragic if Joseph’s response to the magnitude and eternal ramifications of Jesus’ sacrifice had been tempered or trumped by his own fear and desire for self-preservation. Instead, with this bold and courageous action, he shows his love and devotion for Jesus.

·     What are some ways in which I need to face up to disapproval and opposition to properly give Jesus the place of honor in my life? 

Considering the kinds of persecution and opposition that Joseph and the members of the early church faced, what American Christians face today would seldom rise to a level beyond disapproval and mild opposition. Yet, I do need to face up to some of this sort of opposition to properly give Jesus the place of honor in my life.

One potential source of disapproval and opposition are from people who care for my well-being. There are many occasions in which I need to make decisions about my life, or how I’m going to spend my time and money, that don’t agree with what they think is best. They generally want me to prioritize my own comfort and security, and first take care of my own concerns before worrying about others. They would disapprove of the demands of ministry causing me to make sacrifices of my energy, resources, or time with family. They have a difficult time understanding why, because of my commitment to Christ, I would do something other than maximize my career, the size of my house, and the amount of relaxation, leisure and cozy time at home with my family. As I grow older, there is more potential for this type of disapproval and opposition as the path of my life diverges from that of someone who lives according to the world’s values.

But to properly honor Jesus and take seriously his call to follow him will mean that I need to simply obey him and face whatever disapproval or opposition results. I shouldn’t let the desire to maintain the approval of people, even those close to me or those to whom I am indebted, have a greater claim on my life than the calling of the God to whom my debt is incomparably greater.

If Christian life were just about doing some acts of service for God in order to appease Him and earn His favor, then it would make sense to figure out the bare minimum level of effort and sacrifice required, and just do that. But if Christianity is about responding to the initiative of God’s mercy and grace and receiving the gift of pardon for sins and eternity in heaven, then it makes sense to do whatever it takes to honor God and respond with devotion and service, regardless of whatever opposition or disapproval may come. Those things are marginal compared to the reality of what God has done for me and what my life ought to be concerned with. God’s approval must matter more than man’s. If I face disapproval, opposition, or rejection – I should not expect any different from the world that rejected Jesus. As I live my life, I pray that I will have greater conviction and courage to obey God out of love and a desire to honor Him.

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