By David J. Stewart
Jesus Was Accused of Being a Deceiver
We don’t hear too much about Christ’s burial but it is one-third of the Gospel. The fact that Jesus was buried is as important as His death or resurrection. The burial is significant in that it verified (or officiated) that Jesus was in fact dead. The chief priests and Pharisees were worried that someone might steal Jesus’ body and say that He had arose from the grave so they took drastic measures. “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that DECEIVER said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (Matthew 27:62-66). Can you imagine someone calling the Great God of the entire universe a “deceiver?” Jesus is the great God of the entire universe—He was then (on earth) as much as He is today (in Heaven). How wicked and how foolish are the hearts of those who reject Christ. The Jewish chief priests and Pharisees called Jesus a “deceiver.” These unbelievers weren’t taking any chances that someone might steal Jesus’ body from the tomb: they inspected the tomb for any secret entrances, they sealed the tomb with a large stone, and then they asked the Roman Government to place a round-the-clock guard watch upon Jesus’ tomb.
The Skeptics' Attempt to Disprove Jesus' Words Backfired
Little did they realize that they were benefiting the cause of Christ. Three days later when Christ’s body was gone, word spread like wild-fire throughout the region that Jesus’ body had vanished from a heavily sealed and guarded tomb. Wow!!! The chief priest’s scheme backfired beautifully. They wanted to prevent the people from saying that Christ arose. Ah, but Christ did arise and now the evidence was overwhelmingly in favor of the Gospel. The Jewish religious leaders had blown it!!! The best thing the evil chief priests and Pharisees could have done would have been to leave Jesus’ tomb unguarded and unsealed in the first place. They weren’t that smart. They truly believed that Jesus was a fake, a deceiver.
They never would have imagined in a hundred years that Jesus’ body was going to vanish. Can you imagine how stupid they felt when the body was gone? Can you imagine the fear that struck their souls? The scheme of the priests and the Pharisees to obliterate Jesus’ deity had failed. Truly, Jesus had been Almighty God in the flesh. What the Pharisees and the priests had intended as evil, God worked it out for good. This is so true of every circumstance in life—when someone tries to hurt and abuse Christians, it ultimately will backfire on the perpetrator. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones WHICH BELIEVE IN ME, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). This Scripture is referring to ALL of God’s Children. God will avenge His Children!!! You’d better think twice before you hurt God’s Own.
Two Thirds of the Gospel (Good News) is Bad News
Notice that two-thirds of the Gospel is bad news. The word “Gospel” means “glad tidings” or “good news.” Strangely enough the Gospel was mostly bad news for the disciples—Jesus died and was buried—They had lost their good friend. Jesus meant everything to some of these folks. Some of Jesus’ followers had given up their jobs, home, wealth and friends to minister (serve) with Him. Now everything came to a standstill and Jesus was gone. Oh, the grief and the sadness that filled the disciple’s hearts when Jesus was crucified—Their mentor was gone.
This little truth has a wonderful practical application for our life. Although the situation seemed bad at the moment for the disciples, the sins of the whole world had been atoned for. What seemed bad was actually very good. Sometimes things may seem to be very bad in our lives but God can make them turn out for good. Notice In Romans 8:28 that all things are NOT good, “And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The Bible says that all things “work together for good.” The Bible does NOT say all things are good. It is a sad thing when a loved one dies, but we know that God is still on His throne and in control. Sometimes we don’t know “why,” but we trust the Eternal One Who does know “why.” Many things in life are bad, but God promises (only for His Children) that ALL things will ultimately work out for good.
If a person dies in their sins without Christ, then all hope is gone, they are doomed to hellfire forever. Also, We are commanded to be thankful “in everything,” not “for everything.” “IN every thing give thanks…” (1st Thessalonians 5:18). I am NOT thankful that my car breaks down; however, I am thankful that I have a car to break down. I am NOT thankful when my kids get sick; however, I am thankful to God for my wonderful children. We must realize that problems and losses are a part of life. Every birth means a future death, every start means a future end, etc. This is the “reciprocating law of life.” You can’t have light without darkness or joy without misery or work without rest. Though the Gospel means “Good News,” the situation at the time of Jesus' death and burial looked grim. The “Good News” was beyond the understanding of the disciples at that time. God saw the big picture that humanity could not see. Jesus had paid the price of our sins—Paid in full!!! What Satan, the scribes, the Pharisees, the angry mob and the Roman soldiers had meant for evil—God worked it ALL out for the good of the entire human race. What a wonderful God that has such infinite power!!! Let this be an encouragement to us to trust and never doubt the wisdom and workings of God.
Interestingly, God is NOT mentioned even once in the Book of Esther in the Bible, yet we can see the clear working and intervention of a loyal God to His own in a time of trouble. This teaches us a wonderful truth—When you can’t see the HAND of God, trust the HEART of God!!!
Joseph of Arimathaea — An Unsung Hero
“When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed” (Matthew 27:57-60).
This Scripture contains another little truth tucked away in the pages of God’s Word that will bless your soul. This man’s name was “Joseph” and the Bible says He was also one of Jesus' disciples. No mention is ever made of this man until the time of Christ’s burial. He is mentioned in ALL four Gospels, but not until the time of Christ’s burial. I want you to notice two things concerning this man: first, he was rich and second, he was an unsung hero. It’s often easy to get a negative view of rich people from reading the Bible because the Bible has much to say about the vanity of riches. We read of the “love of money” in 1st Timothy 6:10 as being “the root of all evil” and so forth. However, the Bible does not condemn being wealthy. The Bible condemns hording one’s riches and failing to be rich towards God. This rich man in Matthew 27 was a godly saved man. It is wrong to have a negative attitude towards someone simply because they are better off than we are in life. We must be thankful for what God has provided. Our society has become so materialistic and covetous nowadays—saying, “more, more, give us more!” Hebrews 13:5, “...and be content with such things as ye have.”
Also, notice that this Christian man was never recognized in the Bible for anything other than providing a burial place for Jesus. He was an unsung hero who’s time had come. Joseph saw the opportunity to use his wealth to serve the Lord and he did so. I wonder what the professional sport's athletes, movie stars and celebrity singers do with all their money? Though the Bible does not condemn being wealthy, It most certainly DOES condemn the majority of wealthy people... “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for A RICH MAN to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). Most rich people are going straight to Hell when they die!!! Get mad at God, He said it. The wealthy often think they already have Heaven on earth so they don’t need God.
Howbeit, thank God for the few rich people such as Joseph who remember God. This rich man, Joseph, was hid in the shadows and none of the other disciples knew who he was until the appropriate time. There are many Christians, for one reason or another, who do not make themselves known to the rest of us. They are saved, love the Lord Jesus and are ready for when God needs their services. Thank God for these unsung heroes who love the Lord and are there for Him when they are needed.
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