- Sermon Notes
Secret Disciples No More
Last week we looked at each of the seven things that Jesus said on the cross as He was being crucified. These events are the center point of history. All of history looked forward to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and all of time since then looks back to those events as the foundation for all eternity to come.
Going back even to Adam and Eve, when they had sinned they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. I think we can safely assume that up to that point they were covered with the glory of God, but after they sinned they were aware of their nakedness which is why they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. I can't imagine this would be a very comfortable solution.
But out of this story also comes the anticipation of God's answer to our problem of sin because He made for them garments of skin and clothed them. In other words, by the shedding of blood their sins were covered. In fact the scripture tells us in the book of Hebrews that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
And then all through history you see God pointing toward the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only hope for life, even life eternal. So when we hear these words of Jesus on the cross of Calvary we hear the message of good news that God is declaring so that we might have receive eternal life and live in the love that God desires for us to receive from Him.
There were other events also that spoke powerfully of the fact that Christ was forsaken instead of us. He drank the cup that we should have taken; He took the condemnation for our sins instead of us. Darkness covered the land from noon until 3 PM. The veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, a picture of Christ’s sacrifice making a way for us to have a relationship to God, that we can now call God our Father in heaven.
But this story is about Christ dying because of God's love for us so that we might have life; but not just life in eternity, life even now, here on earth. How is that possible? That's the amazing part of the story.
What we see in the story is the power of God to transform us, to change us into His image, so that we might have newness of life even now.
In these verses we are introduced to a man named Joseph of Arimathea who asks for the body so that he might give Jesus a proper Jewish burial. We know from the other Gospels that another man named Nicodemus was also helping Joseph give Jesus a proper Jewish burial. But what we see in these two men is also the story of transformation and we learn much about what God wants to do in us when we see what God has done in these two men.
I. We Were Born in Weakness and Fear
- First of all, it's important for us to step back and see the big picture of what God is doing here because it is so pivotal to all of human history as well as all of eternity.
- We know that He was paying the penalty for our sin, we know that He died instead of us, but how did this happen?
A. We were born in the weakness of Adam
- Let’s step back even further and realize that we were all born in the weakness of Adam. In other words, we were in Adam when he sinned.
- How? We were in his loins you might say. By being in him when he sinned, his sins were attributed to us.
- We don't have to look very far to see the consequences of that in our own lives.
- The tendency toward sin is part of the condition we were born in and we’re all well aware it.
Romans 5:18, So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men…
1 Corinthians 15:22, For as in Adam all die…
Romans 7:7-8, I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind…
Illus – We see that very thing in young children. As soon as you tell them not to touch something, that's the very thing they want to touch. But we're the same way; all you have to do is go on a diet to see how strong our desires are for those things which harm us.
Proverbs 9:17, "Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
B. Fear is part of the human condition
- The story of what happens to the body of Jesus is not complete until we understand some of the background of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
- What we see are two men who are taken by fear. They are followers of Jesus Christ, but stay in secret.
John 19:38, After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews…
- We first met Nicodemus in John 3 when he came to Jesus by night to talk with Him. Why did he come by night? No doubt because of fear.
- At one point Nicodemus tried to stand up for Jesus, but he couldn't do it.
John 7:45-53 Nicodemus was afraid.
- But then something happens. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus risked everything to be identified with Christ's death.
- Joseph goes to Pontius Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus and he himself takes the body of Jesus off of the cross and prepares it for a proper Jewish burial.
- This meant that Joseph and Nicodemus would have washed the body of Jesus. Can you imagine this task? What love and what honor they showed Him.
II. We Were in Him When He Died
- The love and care that they showed Jesus here is very beautiful and important for us to understand. The powerful spiritual reality is that we are to identify with the death of Christ.
- We rightly celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we must not pass over the importance of His death because it has everything to do with us.
A. We were crucified with Christ
- That really is a remarkable statement and difficult for many people to understand.
- But it has everything to do with our salvation and who we are in Christ. But the Bible makes it clear that this is an important aspect of the life that we have now in Christ.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
- When we truly understand the significance of these truths, it makes us respond by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- But the scriptures present these truths very clearly in the book of Romans.
Romans 3:10, 23, As it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one;"… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death…
- We often hear that Christ died instead of us, but now we understand how that death is applied to us; we were in Him when He died.
- One of the best scriptures in the Bible that makes this so clear for us is found in Romans chapter 6.
Romans 6:2-4, How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…
- We died in Christ; what a glorious declaration! My old life has died and I am made new in Christ by the power of the resurrection.
- This is why it is so important that people are baptized in water. Being baptized in water does not save us; it is a picture of what God does through His Holy Spirit and is our declaration to the world that we identify with the death of Christ. It's how our sins were paid for.
Illus – I remember telling this to a man who was about to be baptized that it is a picture of Christ washing our sins by His blood. His response, "Hold me down a long time, I have a lot of sins."
Last week I talked about when my dad came to faith in Christ at 75 years old. Well, he also wanted to be baptized and I will never forget the picture that I have of him in my mind of him in the waters of baptism with his gray hair swirling in the water.
B. He is the resurrection and the life
- The wonderful truth, of course, is that Christ did not remain in the grave but was resurrected in power on the third day.
- The scripture says that Jesus appeared to more than 500 at one time when He was resurrected. I believe that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have been in that crowd.
- Do you think that all of those scriptures would've come to mind when they saw the resurrected Lord?
Isaiah 53:5, But He was pierced through for our transgressions, the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
John 3:14-15, the Son of man must be lifted up so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
- Not only do we identify with his death and burial, but we also identify with His resurrection and life.
Romans 6:4-5, as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
- Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were two of the wealthiest men in Jerusalem. If they were around today no doubt they would be highly sought after to give conferences on the topic of accumulating wealth.
- But I submit that they would have no interest in giving conferences on how to accumulate wealth. They would want to tell people about the power of the resurrection and newness of life.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Matthew 27:50-66 NASB