Nov. 21, 2007; The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher

Focus Text: John 19.38-40

“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being 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 the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19.38-40).

Who could have anticipated that a man so innocent would die such a horrible death? Who would have thought that a man who had befriended so many would be left virtually friendless at the end? Who would have imagined that a man so absolutely dedicated to the truth would come to the end of His life under the testimony of men who cared absolutely nothing about the truth? Who would have thought that the mock robe and crown were but a foreshadowing of the most noble position and greatest exaltation that ever could exist in any place or time? Yet, all of these things and many more could be said of the Christ. He was not your ordinary Teacher; He was the unique and unequalled Teacher!

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus may have had other things in common, but one thing they had in common was a great respect for the Christ. When most all others fled in fear, these two brave souls dared to expose themselves to ridicule at best, and harsh punishment at worst,. Both of them were well aware of the escalating opposition that Jesus was experiencing from the Jews. They probably also knew that His trial and crucifixion were but a sham put up by the Sanhedrin to cover the sins that they had premeditatedly committed in regards to His death. Yet, in spite of all that, they did what they could to honor a man scorned and ridiculed by hundreds upon hundreds.

When Jesus’ body was pierced by the soldier’s spear, some may have turned their backs thinking that He was not what He claimed to be. Others probably saw it as a sign that the time was not yet right for the Kingdom of Heaven to be established. We do not know what Joseph and Nicodemus thought, but we know what they did: they did what they could to honor the King! Both Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were above average in wealth, above the intellect of the average man, and yet, they did what they could to help someone had absolutely nothing to give had He not been Messiah. If Jesus had been but an ordinary man, think of the loss that this pair stood to experience. However, if Jesus was Messiah, think of the gains that they stood to receive from His Divine hand. Truly it can be said that they were willing to venture their lives on the strength of a man who seemed to be everything but a King on the night of His betrayal.

The world frequently proclaims men great due to traits that have nothing to do with character. However, for the Unique and Unequaled Teacher, it is not the world who determines greatness; it is personal strength of character. Of those who remained loyal to Him to the end, little else needs be said to commend them to greatness; they said it all by their deeds!

Questions:

1. Who was Joseph of Arimathea? What did he do to demonstrate his love for Jesus?

2. How did Nicodemus demonstrate his love for Jesus in His death?

3. How did strength of character figure into the deeds of each of these two men?

4. How does the world measure greatness? How does Jesus measure greatness? If Jesus be measured by the world, would He be pronounced as great, average, simple, or what?