Friday, August 7, 2009

The First Turning of Christ's Shame Toward Glory

"After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews."
- John 19:57-59

This Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man (Matthew 27:57), and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, but one who had not agreed with their decision to eliminate Jesus (Luke 23:50-51). His role in transferring Jesus's corpse to the tomb is mentioned in all four Gospels (see also Mark 15:43). The role of Nicodemus is mentioned only by John, perhaps because of his significant role in that Gospel (see chapter 3). Both Luke and John mention that this was a newly-dug tomb, in which no bodies had yet been laid, but it was probably intended for Joseph himself, together with his family, as was the custom for the wealthy. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9, "And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death."

Here we see what is described in Hebrews 12:2, "... looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." After the shame and ignominy of a trial, beatings, lashes, and then the ultimate shame of the crucifixion itself, the trough is past, and the first hints of glory show themselves. As prophesied by the gift of myrrh at His birth (Matthew 2:11), this was the death He was destined to die, and the Father here gives the first tokens of the glory with which He would reward the Son, described for example in Hebrews, chapter 1. The first signs are these two wealthy men, ministering to the humiliated corpse of their Lord, Who had had not even a place to lay His head in life (Matthew 8:20). That glory would advance to His resurrection, His ascension, His seating at the right hand of the Father, and will be ultimately seen in His return in glory to receive the kingdoms of the earth for Himself (Revelation 11:15). That same Jesus that was mocked as a king at His death, would be acknowledged as king in His glory. As Zechariah 13:7-9 prophesied, the Shepherd Who was struck will be acknowledged as "the Lord is my God."

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