Text: Luke 23:50-53
Introduction: The Our Daily Bread’ devotional tells the following story. PP: The evangelist Billy Sunday use to tell of a Christian who got a job in a lumber camp that had a reputation of being very ungodly. A friend hearing that the man had been hired, said to him, ‘If those lumberjacks ever find out you’re a Christian, you’re going to be in for a hard time.’ The man responded, ‘I know, but I need the job!’
The next morning he left for camp. A year later, he came home for a visit. While in town, he met his friend who asked, ‘Well, how did it go? Did they give you a hard time because you’re a Christian?’ ‘Oh no, not at all,’ the man replied. ‘They didn’t give me a bit of trouble – they never even found out.” [Our Daily Bread. 11/83]
PP: Did you ever stand up for something you believed in?
It’s relatively easy to stand up for what seems to be a socially moral issue because many others will.
PP: But… there are issues, if you’re going to take a stand, you may have to take it alone, or at best with only a few standingwith you. And in taking that stand, the chance of opposition is often great.
Generally speaking, the reason Christians fail to stand up for the cause of Christ in the public arena, is because they lack courage.
PP: Scholar, pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act, is to act. (Mark Schaeufele)
PP: Courage… that’s what I see as lacking in far too many who call themselves Christians yet don’t exhibit much evidence to prove they’re followers of Jesus Christ.
In our text today, we’ll meet two men man, who were believers in Jesus, but, because they lacked the courage to publicly walk asone of His followers, they lived in the shadows. That is, until they made a conscious choice… to step out!
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 23:50
1. Luke 23:50-51 Joseph in the shadows
PP: Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
Let’s first take a look at Joseph’s bio.
A. Luke 23:50 Joseph’s bio
PP: Luke 23:50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man.
You all know what a bio is right? It’s short for biography. According to Wikipedia A biography, or bio, is a detailed description of a person’s life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person’s experience of these life events.
This is what we see in verse 50, a bio. So, what do we know about Joseph?
Joseph of Arimathea is only found in connection to the burial of Jesus. BUT, he’s mentioned in all 4 Gospels… that’s significant.
Now, legend has it that in the year 61ad Joseph was sent by Jesus’ disciple Phillip to Britain. With him he brought the cup that had been used at the Last Supper, and in it was some of Jesus’ blood.
That’s legend... what do we know for sure?
First, Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council that sentenced Jesus to death.
Second, according to Matthews Gospel, Joseph was a believer in Jesus, one of His disciples, but,
like the guy who took the job as a lumberjack,
no one, with the exception of Nicodemus, knew it.
As sad as that sounds; that Joseph was afraid to live out his faith, there’s something that just might be an encouragement to us:
That should encourage those of you who work or go to school in an environment that’s not Jesus friendly. It is possible to be a genuine follower of Jesus, even in a group that openly rejects Him.
Third, we’re told that Joseph was a good and righteous man.
Joseph was good in that he was a good man, in thought and action, the Greek word implies doing good to others. We’ll see the goodness of Joseph in vs. 53.
Joseph was also called righteous. Being called righteous, doesn’t mean he was perfect… It couldn’t since he kept his faith in Jesus a secret.
This should encourage us in that even though we fail Jesus at times, even though we continue to sin, even though we have doubts, and fear what the world can do to us,
B. Luke 23:51 Joseph’s heart
PP: Luke 23:51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
Even though it’s true that Joseph lurked in the shadows of the unbelief of the world around him, Dr. Luke gives us a glimpse into Joseph’s heart.
We’re told Joseph did not give his consent in the council to have Jesus killed. (Luke 23:51)
PP: Next Slide
What we learn is that even though Joseph was lurking in the shadows of the unbelief of the world, he refused to give in to its influence.
But, his heart was in the right place, it belonged to Jesus. The darkness of the unbelief and hatred towards Jesus in the council, was not strong enough to influence Joseph to give his consent to killing God’s Messiah.
Next the text tells us, Joseph was looking for the Kingdom of God (Luke 23:51)
Joseph was, spiritually speaking, forward facing. His hopes were not placed in his current situation, but in his future position in Christ, the Messiah.
Perhaps it was that passionate longing for God’s Kingdom that was responsible for courage begining to show itself in Joseph’s heart.
2. Luke 23:52-53 Joseph steps out of the shadows
PP: This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
Here we see Joseph stepping out of the shadows by doing two things:
A. Luke 23:52 By leaving the Sanhedrin
PP: Luke 23:52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
It seems Jesus’ death changed everything for Joseph of Arimathea.
Now, Jesus is dead, and He’s still on the cross.
It’s likely Joseph was in the crowd the day Jesus was crucified. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and as verse 49 says, an acquaintance of Jesus.
I believe Joseph’s heart broke.
But, when Joseph heard Jesus’ grace filled words… Father forgive them… his guilt was replaced with courage, with confidence, with an overabundance of faith. And it was at that moment,
No, he stepped out of the shadows and in to the light.. his faith in Jesus… visible to all.
Speculation? Look at what the Apostle Mark wrote: PP: Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:43)
The Greek word for courage here means ‘went in boldly’.
Jesus’ death on the cross movedJoseph to publicly profess his life in Christ and not only possess it privately.
By asking for Jesus’ body,
But listen… none of that mattered.
And the Holy Spirit filled Joseph of Arimathea with confidence and courage.
And look, that’s the same way it happens today when we’re living in the shadows of the unbelief of the world around us.
The Apostle Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth said For the love of Christ controls us…
(2 Corinthians 5:14a)
Listen to what Paul wrote to the church in Rome:
The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts and that provides in us, courage to step out of the shadows to face whatever the unbelieving world can throw at us.
B. Luke 23:53 By burying Jesus
PP: Luke 23:53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
Just two things here… significant things, but just two.
First, take note to the careful and respectful way Joseph prepared Jesus’ body for burial. It reflected how he felt about Jesus.
Everything Joseph did was in line with the Law established for properly burying a Jewish man.
Joseph knew he would get nothing in return for his goodness.
Second, Joseph didn’t step out of the shadows of the unbelieving world alone, he didn’t care for Jesus’ body by himself… Joseph had help.
If you remember in John chapter 3, Nicodemus came to meet with Jesus in the shadows of night.
It seems somehow Joseph reached out to Nicodemus and asked him to bring the 75lbs of spices since he had to stay with Jesus’ body.
Both men were formally secret disciples of Jesus who were lurking in the shadows of the unbelieving world.
But now, as a result of Jesus’ death, they stepped out of the shadows and took a public stand for Christ… And they did it together!
Listen, this tells me that fellowship, spending time with, opening out hearts and lives to other Believers
PP: Next Slide
Conclusion: Will you step out of the shadows?
For a year I worked in an inpatient drug and alcohol program. I worked there… I wasn’t a patient…don’t miss that part. Among my duties was to lead groups.
The purpose was to get the patients to publicly acknowledgethat they had a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.
Listen, because this is also true for Christians who are lurking in the shadows:
So Christian, let me ask…
If you’ve answered yes,
On Thursday, I read Psalm 135 as part of my devotional time with the Lord. And as I read verses 15-18 God opened my eyes to how lurking in the shadows of the unbelief on the world around us, happens to far too many Christians.
PP: Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.
This is what happens to us when we blend in, when we lurk in the shadows of the unbelief of the world around us.
Because when we fail to take a stand for Jesus, when we fail to step out of the shadows of the unbelieving world around us..
Christian, make the choice today, right now
Christian, choose this day to step out of the shadows!