(PODCAST) DAVID’S STORY, ARRESTED FOR EVANGELIZING
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, IS IT MORE THAN A FORMALITY?
I have been a member of various churches over the years and am currently one now! Sadly, most of the churches I was a part of over the years didn’t do very well at teaching the members of those churches how important being a “good” church member was.
Sure, they occasionally taught about the value of church membership, i.e., community, accountability, sacraments, and voting rights, but not so much how to be a faithful, engaged church member.
I feel cheated. Cheated out of so many years in which I could have prospered in my walk of faith personally as a member, I also feel a sense of loss for the opportunities I might have had to bless other members in fulfilling my proper role as a member.
I am not sure what your experience may have been like. Perhaps you are on the other side of the spectrum and have benefited from sound teaching on church membership. Maybe you have had good and faithful role models in your church that were outstanding examples of effective church membership. I hope so.
That is my motivation for this post. I want to discuss with you, the reader, what good and healthy church membership looks like in the life of a believer.
I will not be exhaustive on the topic; you’re welcome. But I hope what I share with you will be instructive and encouraging. I pray that we will take these truths to heart and prayer so that we will grow in this area of our Christian walk.
The first and most important aspect of being a good and flourishing church member is SALVATION!
Redemption creates a distinction between God’s people and not God’s people. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am NOT saying the church, any church, can save you. Only repentant faith alone in Christ alone can redeem a person from the depth of their iniquity.
What I am saying, however, is that the church was instituted for God’s people, redeemed people who have been justified by the blood of their Savior Jesus Christ.
It is not the gathering of the unredeemed but THE redeemed! The local church is the place where other redeemed sinners gather to worship, pray, participate in its sacraments (baptism and communion), and serve one another. It is where they are edified and equipped for their work of service to the Lord throughout the week.
So, for a Christian to become a member of a local church body, it should be observed is not a decision that he/she should take lightly.
“Church membership is about a church taking specific responsibility for a Christian, and a Christian for a church. It’s about “putting on,” “embodying,” “living out,” and “making concrete” our membership in Christ’s universal body. In some ways, the union which constitutes a local church and its members is like the “I do” of a marriage ceremony, which is why some refer to church membership as a “covenant” (9 marks).
So before we say “I do,” we must ensure we have the gospel right.
You and I live in a world God created (Genesis1-2). As such, He deserves and is worthy of glory and honor (Revelation 4:11). He made human beings in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27, 21-25) and put them in charge to be fruitful and multiply the earth and subdue it, they were created to live and rule the creators’ world under His loving authority. As the creator of mankind and all that mankind enjoys, He is the supreme authority over all His creation.
But sadly, Adam and Eve fell into sin. Eve bought into the lie of Satan and ate of the tree in the garden and then gave it to her husband, who did the same (Genesis 3:1-7). Now the sad testimony, ever since, is the fact that through our first parent’s sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12). In rejecting God, Adam, and Eve made a mess of their lives (Genesis 3-4), and the lives of all those who follow after them. They rejected the loving creators’ authority and instituted one of their own. Sadly, we are all like this too. We all rebel against our loving creator and seek to do what we desire, not what He desires. And as a result, we make a terrible mess of our lives.
Even though we rebelled against Him and have sought our own way, not His, He is gracious towards us in that He will not let us rebel forever. God, our creator, will give us all justice, what each of us deserves. God takes our rebellion against Him seriously. He is not indifferent to the way we treat Him. It would be horrifying to fall under the sentence of God’s judgment. This reality all of us as sinners will face (Hebrews 9:27).
Because God so loved us and was not willing that any should perish (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:8-10), He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to pay the debt we owe; the righteous for the unrighteousness, the innocent for the guilty (1 Peter 3:18). He became our substitute, died in our place thereby taking on our punishment and purchasing our forgiveness with the Father, our creator (Philippians 1:5-11).
But the story does not end there. Jesus rose to life again, conquering death, and because He lives, we too will live, with Him, forever, our Savior (John 20-21; 1 Peter 1:3)! God accepted Jesus’ death as the total payment for our sins, and He is now seated by His right hand in power (Hebrews 12:2; Romans 8:34). So, now because of Jesus, we can have peace with God (Romans 5:1)!
Take Him at His word, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, will be saved (Romans 10:13)!” Talk with Him. Acknowledge your guilt and ask for forgiveness.
This is the essential aspect of being a healthy church member. With this as our foundation, what should we consider next?
The second aspect of being a flourishing church member is YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH.
Really? Why does it matter whether or not I’m growing spiritually? It matters a lot. You are not the lone ranger church; you are involved with a group of people that make up your local church.
As the wedding analogy mentioned earlier, you have become one within your church body. The well-being of the church begins with each member.
Guard your heart against pride – this sinful pleasure will lead a person away from humility before the Lord and others. Pride stifles our ability to truly comprehend greater biblical truth while hindering us in our service to the church body. It gives us a false assurance that we “know” what we need to know while falsely judging others around us.
Apathy- “Spiritual apathy, coldness, or indifference can affect even the most sincere Christian at one time or another. Human emotions being as fickle as they are, feelings of apathy or disinterest can sometimes replace the fervor we once felt for the things of God.”
Guarding against apathy is vitally important. Such indifference will draw us away from faithful attendance. It will pull us away from acts of service to others within the church. But if we find such a coldness within our hearts, overcoming apathy is necessary for continuing our walk with God.
Unconfessed sin- Proverbs 28:13
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
“We are called to live by the standard of Scriptures, walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). With the presence of the Spirit, we experience conviction when we sin overtly and neglect our duty. Often we are convicted for our attitudes and thoughts.
Sin always leads to pollution, disintegration, and perversion; worse, it hinders our fellowship with God. While we are disappointed and hurt when believers sin, we should not be surprised that it occurs. The Christian life is a struggle against the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the forces of Satan. We are all familiar with the internal war we feel as we seek to live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:13-21).
In short, the remedy is confession (1 John 1:9- Erwin Lutzer)
We may be tempted to hide our sins. Sometimes, we secretly hold onto a particular form of sin that we enjoy. “If we choose to remain in our sin, then we choose the consequences that go with that choice. Broken fellowship and lack of growth result. However, those who persist in sin need to reexamine their true relationship with God (2 Corinthiansofpture is clear that those who know God do not continue a lifestyle of unrepentant sin (1 John 2:3–6; 3:7–10). A desire for holiness is a hallmark of those who know God. To know God is to love Him (Matthew 22:37–38). To love Him is to desire to please Him (John 14:15). Unconfessed sin gets in the way of pleasing Him, so a true child of God wants to confess it, change it, and restore fellowship with God” (got questions.com).
Short, honest accounting with our Lord regarding our sins will be a blessing for us personally in our relationship with Him and our relationships with others!
A third aspect of being a flourishing church member is YOUR PRAYER LIFE
Our prayers shouldn’t be an afterthought, a last resort when nothing else has worked. Prayer should be our default mode, our day’s most crucial and sought-after conversations.
Prayer is how we converse with God and how our relationship with Him blossoms. Through prayer, our heavenly Father works in our hearts and lives, aligning them with His will.
Prayer strengthens us against temptation. Matthew 26:41
41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our praying is being obedient to God.
18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Praying is the pathway to godly wisdom
“James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. Through prayer, we access God’s wisdom, which is unlike that of the world. It comes to us through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13).” Internet
In the local church, we are allowed to be obedient to the Lord in this way corporately! Praying together encourages other believers, comforts them, and plays a part in strengthening them thru their struggles.
For you and I to have a steady walk with the Lord; for the local church that you are a member of to flourish and be helpful in gospel ministry, it has to be a praying church. Prayer not only changes things, it is the main thing!
I hope these words will be found to be beneficial in your Christian life, especially regarding your life in the local church in which you are a member.
Much more could be added, but I leave that precious time to study for you. What may be some things that you have found necessary for a Christian’s life regarding their flourishing in the local church?
FEARING WORKPLACE EVANGELISM
We are all familiar with the scripture from Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd (wise) as serpents and innocent (blameless) as doves.” Luke expresses that same sentiment differently (Luke 10:3). Yet, that’s the beauty and power of the Word of God. The same counsel given to the disciples when Jesus sent them out to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” applies to us today as we go into our places of work as Christians. We need wisdom and innocence as we traverse the muddied terrain of workplace protocol!
We want to be faithful witnesses for our King, King Jesus, but it appears to be more complicated these days, right? After all, Human Resources (HR) seems to be systematically changing the rules we must follow regarding our interactions with customers, management, and other employees. Many laws are changing and becoming more “inclusive.” The woke culture has erupted onto the scene infiltrating every aspect of our society; its tentacles are far-reaching and relentless.
Scary stuff, right? Has our current climate hindered or perhaps even stifled your witness for Christ in the workplace? Your workplace? Are you confused about how to effectively evangelize your co-workers without being fired or, worse, thrown in prison?
“*The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) requires believers to spread the Gospel to the four corners of the Earth. We spend 8-10 hours a day at work, potentially eight hours or so sleeping, with the remaining eight hours divided between family, church, and other responsibilities. We are at our jobs 40-50 hours a week, that makes it our biggest ministry field for evangelism! Increasingly, people are realizing that this means that we are to be witnesses in our places of work.”
Even so, many Christians fear speaking about their faith at work. The fear of being ridiculed, scoffed at, ignored, or even disciplined or fired are powerful harbingers that tend to keep them silent among their peers.
The inescapable reality, however, is that “there will always be opposition to the spreading of the Gospel. Some in our society want religious people to keep their convictions to themselves and leave their religion at home. The law, however, does not require that religious employees and employers check their religion at the office door or the factory gate when they come to work.”
“Federal and State laws protect the religious freedoms of employees and employers. Employers can run their business in conformance with godly principles and employees cannot be forced to act in a manner that conflicts with their religious beliefs. For instance, Christian employers may hold and participate in voluntary chapel services and prayer meetings for employees, and employees can share their faith with co-workers during breaks or free time so long as it is not disruptive. In short, there is no law requiring the workplace to be a religion-free zone.”
That’s a breath of fresh air! You and I are not breaking any laws when we live out and share our faith in Jesus Christ while working. We are in full-time Christian ministry, no matter where we are or what our occupation is. As ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), we must be faithful messengers representing the King of heaven with the Gospel.
With all that being said, that nowhere implies that it will always be easy or without consequences. So, what principles can we apply here that will help us act with wisdom as we not only live out our faith but vocalize as well in the workplace?
As with building any solid, long-lasting structure, I guess you always begin with the foundation. The foundation holds everything that comes after it. Our foundation for workplace evangelism starts with our integrity as redeemed children of God.
“1 When you live out your faith, your life becomes convicting to those around you. Your words and actions can cause a non-Christian to ask, “I wonder what makes him behave the way he does. I’m impressed.”
Your witness at work includes anything, and everything people may observe about you — the integrity you exhibit by the promises you make and keep, the way you treat people you dislike or dislike you, and even the patience you show at meetings or during times of stress.
You don’t come to work at 8:15 if you’re supposed to be there at 8. You work just as hard five minutes before it is time to leave as you did in the middle of the morning. Your performance is the same when your employer’s back is turned as when he or she is facing you.
Here are some questions for reflection about your witness at work:
Are you a good worker? Your employer is God above, not a boss below. You should live and work each day with the knowledge that you are accountable to Him. This includes how you spend your time at work, even in evangelism. You are paid by your employer to work, not to witness. After-hours or break times can be great opportunities, but you need to be careful not to steal time from your employer.
Do you act and react with self-control? You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. The way you react to countless stresses and conflicts in the workplace is evident every day — in conferences, lunchroom conversations, client negotiations, budget planning, service calls and sales meetings and on the factory line. Your reactions catch people’s attention.
Do you tell the truth? Truth needs to be seen in sales reports, endorsements, expense reports, budget analyses, client negotiations and the way you repeat what others say. And not only do you need to speak the truth, your motives should be sincere.”
Without this solid foundation godly integrity, most, if not any co-workers will listen to you sincerely when you talk to them about the difference Christ makes in peoples lives!
Another principle to consider is what I underlined above: You are paid by your employer to work, not to witness. After-hours or break times can be great opportunities, but you need to be careful not to steal time from your employer. Please take all the opportunities you have during break or lunch, but recognize they will always be short-lived. Ten-minute breaks and thirty-minute lunches do not allow us much time to converse seriously with our co-workers.
Recognize that while your workplace produces some opportunities to share your faith, it comes with many limitations. My suggestion, although not original with myself, would be to consider fostering relationships with your peers outside the work environment. Invite them over for dinner. Go out for coffee or breakfast together, etc. In these venues, you will have more time to talk. During these times, you are outside the workplace environment and not under those rules of engagement; you are on your own personal time!
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Romans 10:15). This is not about our feet, dear Christian, but the message those feet deliver!
*ACLJ website, Christian Rights In The Workplace
1 Beliefnet, Witness in the Workplace
An extension of the wider mercy view of salvation. What you need to know!
(PODCAST) SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS
THE PRAXIS OF THEOLOGY
One of the first things you will notice on my blog site is the 7waysfromsunday logo. Directly underneath those seven fingers are these words: “Where theology instructs our daily walk.” Those words are at the very top of the page because they define the purpose of this website. That purpose is to take the “knowledge” of God gleaned from His holy Word and rightly apply it to our everyday lives.
That is the “praxis” you read in the title of this post. Praxis is the practical application of learned theology. “*The overall importance of Practical Theology is that the study of Christian beliefs as found in Scripture involves more than merely knowing what the Bible teaches but also how its teachings apply to life’s situations.”
This particular sphere of theology is most noticeable in the arenas of pastoral ministry, biblical counseling, and Christian education, to name a few. As well as blog sites, podcasts (like this one), and parachurch ministries that are constantly and purposely seeking to help the body of Christ (the church) actively live out in their lives and areas of influence the knowledge they have gained by studying the Word of God.
So then, my aim in all I do, whether written or in audio format, is to take what we learn in scripture from other areas of theology, such as Biblical theology, Historical theology, and Systematic Theology, and bring all of that down to a place that focuses on the everyday or modern day implications of Christian theological beliefs because theology is the application of theological truth to all of life, particularly the life and work of the church.
So how does that work? The answer to that question involves some level of understanding of the various aspects of theology. First, Biblical theology focuses on knowledge about God that is relayed to us in the Bible. Its focus begins by looking at scripture book by book. To say it another way, to gain a biblical theology, one has to study each particular book in the Bible carefully to learn its place in the unfolding process of redemption. We want to take careful notice of various distinctions that are present (Israel and the church), different vocabulary usage (John contrasted to Matthew), and the different genres (poetical, prophetical, historical, etc.) and so much more. All of these are interwoven, so by asking various questions relating to all these things, we can connect the dots, if you will, and form a cohesive biblical theology.
But along the way, we realize this book has many themes that run from cover to cover. Those need to be tracked and understood in light of the whole trajectory of the Bible. By doing this, we can see “1the wisdom of God in unfolding Scripture in these ways, and we sometimes, as we see these themes unpacked before our eyes, bow in worship as we begin to glimpse something of the mind of God in putting these stories together when individual writers along the line themselves could not see all that they were contributing to, even if they could see the current bit where God was using their words to speak with infallible truth.”
Second, Historical theology is the study of Christian history, the development of Christian doctrine, and looking at how Christians throughout history have understood and applied various biblical truths to their lives, such as the nature of God, the nature of man, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, government, and much much more.
Third, Systematic Theology takes all the parts (Christology, Pneumatology, Anthropology, hamartiology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Angelology, and Eschatology) and “systematizes” them. In other words, rather than studying each part (as referenced above), systematic theology focuses on bringing all the biblical teachings mentioned above into a self-consistent, coherent whole. This “bringing together” is not haphazard. Instead, it provides order and defense of these truths in a systematic, understandable way.
So what practical theology does is take all that was learned from the various elements above and exegete the theological significance of how we live our lives today in light of these truths.
These truths apply to every sphere of our existence. Our personal lives, relationships in and out of the church, work, and our relationship with government, employers, and other authority figures. Our view of life and death, the world and everything in it. They guide our thoughts and help form our opinions. They give us an understanding of the God who created and redeemed us so that we can walk in a manner worthy of Him. And so much more!
That is the praxis of 7waysfromsunday!
Mark 16: 1-12
BRIEF INTRO: We have made it! After all these weeks of meditating on the words of Mark, we finally arrive at the last chapter of his gospel. We began this gospel account focused on the beginning of Christ’s ministry in Galilee and surrounding regions. We read about how it broadened and entered various Gentile regions, the ending of His ministry as He headed toward Jerusalem, and how His ministry was consummated at the crucifixion and His rising again.
We learned of how Jesus gained disciples, taught them, commissioned them, and then how they fled from Him when He was betrayed. And we were shocked to witness their unbelief after He arose from the grave!
We read about many miracles that Jesus accomplished. His teachings, instructions, and challenges challenged us to look into our hearts and be honest with ourselves about our relationship with Him.
We found ourselves confused and agitated at the constant attacks of the “religious” class against Jesus and their scheme to get rid of Him. Ultimately, they seem to have succeeded: But then Christ arose from the grave, fulfilling all that was said of Him by the prophets, and the church was born!
16 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of [a]James, and Salome bought spices so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb for us?” 4 And looking up, they *noticed that the stone had been rolled away; [b]for it was extremely large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”
FOCUS ONE: The sun had risen (1-5)
Saturday, Nisan 16, concluded at sunset. The Sabbath had ended, and the new Jewish day had begun. That evening ended with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, looking on to see “Where He (Jesus) was laid” (15:47). These women then left that place and “prepared the spices and perfumes” (Luke 23:56) necessary to bury Jesus properly. The new day begins with these women waking up (if they even slept) before the “1crack of dawn” to walk to the place where they saw Jesus laid to “counteract the odor of decay and as a symbolic expression of loving devotion.” The Jews did not embalm their dead!
John informs us from his writing that Jesus was placed near a tomb where He was crucified. “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41).
Mark mentions another woman with these other ladies when they go to the tomb in the early morning. Her name is Salome. We know little about her, but the snippet below is helpful and encouraging.
“*Even though we don’t know much about the second Salome and her particular motivations, what we do know gives a strong sense of her devotion. She was willing to give up her regular life to follow Jesus, a carpenter who had become an itinerant (and, since he wasn’t part of the recognized religious orders, uncertified) teacher. Dropping everything to follow someone like that, especially since he was a Messiah who avoided any worldly connotations (no way to make money from his revolution) would have been hard to explain. Doing that as a woman in a patriarchal society would have been even harder. Salome not only took big social risks to follow Jesus, but she also supported him with her resources.
Even after his cause appeared to have completely collapsed and he was dying, Salome was there for Jesus. Rather than just quietly leave and get back to her normal life, she was there at the cross. After his death, she was there to honor him at the tomb by anointing his body.”
These women head for the tomb before the sun rises. As they arrive, the sun has risen, and they face an unexpected problem. There is a huge stone rolled over the tomb! Two of these ladies knew that a stone was rolled against the entrance (vv. 46-47), but apparently, I’d think much about it during their preparation of the spices.
But the stone itself was a much more minor issue than the “official seal” placed on it and the guard that watched it. How confused and yet amazed they must have been when they looked to the place where Jesus was laid and saw that the stone had already been rolled away! “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it” (Matthew 28:2). The guards that were assigned to keep watch over the tomb “shook for fear of him and became like dead men” (v. 4)! Problems solved! Mark does not tell us these facts.
So now what? They entered it! They see “a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed” (v. 5). This “young man” is the angel that Matthew told us about.
6 “But he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; see, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
FOCUS TWO: HE is not here! (6-8)
These women experience a broad range of emotions. They go from experiencing sorrow at His crucifixion to amazement at the stone being rolled away in verse five, and now we read that they are experiencing great fear at what they are witnessing. “Mark uses a compound verb of strong emotion (ekthambeo)” that expresses overwhelming distress at what is highly unusual.
“During the stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises.” Your mind battles the reality you face trying to make sense of it, and your body becomes overloaded. You and I may not be able to relate to their overwhelming distress, but on a smaller scale, I think we can understand it. People that have experienced a severe traumatic event, such as 911 0r fighting in a war, can relate, to some degree, to the mental and physical aspects of “overwhelming stress.”
The angel speaks to them and tells them the unbelievable yet amazing news that Jesus, who they are looking for, who they came to prepare for burial, is not there! “HE HAS RISEN; He is not here, behold, here is the place where they laid Him” (v. 6).
This straightforward fact conveyed by the angel is central to historic Christianity! “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Many people since the time of Christ have posited explanations for this grand event, seeking to explain it away. But, there is only one explanation as to why the tomb of Christ was empty: the unassailable reality that he rose from the dead as it is written of Him (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)!
The angel commands (“go” is in the present imperative) them to tell the disciples that He is alive and is going before them to Galilee. It will be there where they will see Him alive! What I find interesting is the particular reference to Peter, “But go and tell His disciples and Peter” (v. 7). “2 Peter was not signaled out as the leader of the disciples, but to be reassured that, despite his denials of Christ, he was s2 Peterne of them.”
At this, the women fled (flee, escaped), and their minds were overwhelmed by the shock and awe of the moment. Their bodies were trembling in fear, and when told they could go, they went as fast as they could! So consumed by shock and fear, they didn’t immediately speak about it to anyone.
9 “[[[a]Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
12 Now after that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.”
FOCUS THREE: Refused to believe it! (9-20)
These last verses in our study and the rest of this chapter are among the most disputed textual problems in our New Testament. MacArthur states, “The external evidence strongly suggests these verses were not originally part of Mark’s gospel. While the majority of Greek manuscripts contain these verses, the earliest and most reliable do not.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary says evidence against it being included in Mark’s gospel is strong. But rather than end our study here, I will comment on these verses because they are before us to contemplate.
Click here for an in-depth article on this issue.
We read that He arose early on the first day of the week. That would be Sunday morning; Saturday was the last day of the week for the Jews. Scripture describes several separate appearances of Jesus between His resurrection and ascension; Mary Magdalene at the tomb was the first. She quickly went and reported this to Peter and John. Refusing to believe it, they both run to the tomb; Peter arrives first and stoops down, looking in (John 20:3-4).
Put chart here
After all of His appearances to the 11 disciples and their resultant unbelief, Jesus appears to all of them and reproaches (rebuked) them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart” (v. 14). We might scoff at such unbelief, but we would have acted no differently.
Similar to Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, we see an added detail in this account: baptism. “Even if v.16 is a genuine part of Mark’s gospel, it does not teach that baptism saves, since the lost are condemned for unbelief, not for 2 EveneEveningized.”
Verses 16-18 appear on the surface to be problematic. Some people apply these scriptures to all believers of all time, as some do at the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tennessee. But signs like these were only promised to the apostolic community (Matthew 10:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12). Regarding the drinking of poison and handling of snakes; the New Testament records no instances of either of these experiences mentioned. “Paul’s encounter with a snake at Malta was unintentional (Acts 28:3-5).
Verse nineteen gives insight into what happened after Christ’s forty-day post-resurrection “ministry.” This event is recorded in Acts 1:9-11. The disciples, now energized with faith at being with Jesus after He rose from the grave, begin fulfilling the commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
We did it; we just finished our study of the Gospel of Mark! He is alive! I hope that you have been educated, encouraged, and equipped to go into the world around you and share Jesus with the lost.
HE IS RISEN-HE IS RISEN INDEED!
1 The Bible Knowledge Commentary
2 John MacArthur
THE BODY OF JESUS
I don’t want us moving forward in our study of Mark and his writing on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus simply gaining a broader cognitive understanding of how all the events played out. Instead, I want us to grasp the “facts” evident in Mark’s account that reveal to us, the reader, the gospel to be believed.
Paul shared with the Corinthian believers the gospel to be believed in (1 Corinthians 15:1-8); Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. Over 500 people witnessed his rising from the grave! But whether or not a person saw that tremendous event as it happened, they are still held accountable for believing those facts of the gospel to be born again (John 20:27-29)!
The first two of those three facts are attested to in the section we will be looking at today.
42 When evening had already come, since it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself also waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.
FOCUS ONE: It was evening (42-43)
The designation “evening” refers to the hours between 3 PM and sunset when Friday ended and the Sabbath began. Since no work was allowed on the Sabbath day, Friday was used for preparing for it.
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, goes before Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. He witnessed the gruesome event, and after Jesus cried out and breathed His last, he mustered up some courage to stand before Pilate.
“*Under Roman law the release of a crucified man’s corpse for burial was determined only by the imperial magistrate. Usually such a request by a victim’s relatives was granted, but sometimes a body would be left on a cross to decay or be eaten by predatory animals or birds and the remains were thrown into a common grave. Jewish law required a proper burial for all bodies, even those of executed criminals. It also dictated that those hanged were to be taken down and buried before sunset” (Deuteronomy 21:23).
This is most likely why Joseph of Arimathea goes before Pilate. We are told two exciting facts about this man:
- He was a prominent member of the Council
- He was waiting for the kingdom of God
The “Council” is another name, a non-Jewish name, for the Sanhedrin. He appears to be a devout Pharisee but disagrees with the Sanhedrin’s decision to kill Jesus (Luke 23:51). He regarded Jesus as the Messiah. However, he did it from a distance, so to speak, as he was a “secret disciple (John 19:38). But, as we see in these scriptures, he publicly risked his reputation and even his life in asking Pilate for the body of Jesus! No longer in the shadows of faith, but now in headlights of transparency!
Sadly, many professing Christians worldwide can relate to Joseph’s dilemma-being a secret follower of Jesus Christ. Many Christians fear their lives, families, and underground churches. We can only hope and pray that, like Joseph of Arimathea, they, too, will find the courage to stand up, face their fear, and walk boldly for the glory of Jesus Christ.
What Joseph did was no light thing. But he does it anyway! “*He was not related to Jesus; his request was a favor that would likely be denied on principle because Jesus was executed for treason; he risked ceremonial defilement in handling a dead body; his request amounted to an open confession of personal loyalty to the crucified Jesus which would doubtless incur his associates’ hostility.”
This makes me think about many Christians here in America who, in one way or another, are walking on “eggshells” regarding their faith because of the position they hold in this toxic culture that envelopes us. Teachers in public schools, those working for the government, and others feel the same woe, much like Joseph did. But will they stand up and step out, courageously identifying with Jesus Christ when there is no option but flat-out betrayal?
Thankfully, Covid 19 and the lockdowns have given us some wonderful testimonies of people facing this dilemma and boldly standing for Christ and His morality amid much vitriolic opposition. If they are Christ’s, they will be given the courage, just like Joseph of Arimathea! So be encouraged.
44 Now Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And after learning this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb which had been cut out in the rock, and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
FOCUS TWO: Preparing the Lord’s body (44-46)
Joseph of Arimathea’s plea seems to have bewildered Pilate. Pilate wondered if he was already dead. Most often, crucifixion victims suffered for days before death became mercy. So, Pilate summons the centurion; oh yeah! The same centurion stated, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (v. 39). He asks if Jesus is already dead, and the centurion confirms that He is (cr. John 19:31-35). Pilate grants Joseph’s request for the body.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the three facts that need to be believed to be saved, i.e., Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Dear reader, what is being testified to here and in the other gospels is that Jesus did die, and His burial officially confirmed His death. As mentioned earlier, this was an essential point of the church’s teaching on the atoning (finished) work of Christ Jesus.
It is unlikely that Joseph would have been able to take Jesus off the cross by himself or move His body to the tomb. It makes sense then to assume that he had some others help him. A quick preparation would need to be done and finished later after the sabbath (cr. 16:1). “*After Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, it was probably washed (Acts 9:37) before it was wrapped tightly in strips of linen cloth with aromatic spices placed between the wraps. All this was in accord with Jewish burial customs” (John 9:39-40).
He is laid in a tomb, Joseph’s grave in a nearby garden (Matthew 27:60). The tomb is then sealed shut by rolling a large flat circular stone in front of the entrance. Usually, the stone was “rolled down a sloping groove till it was securely in front of the entrance to keep out intruders. To roll the stone back up again would require the strength of several men.”
47 Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, were watching to see where He was laid.
Mark tells us that two women that had witnessed Jesus’ death witnessed where His body was laid too! Perhaps the other women were still grieving at the crucifixion site or went back home. Who were here women? Mary Magdalene was the woman that was delivered from seven demons (Luke 8:2). Mary, the mother of Joses, is also described as the “mother of James the less” (Matthew 27:56).
These two women, along with Salome, are the first to get to the tomb on resurrection day! That will be our focus next time.
*The Bible Knowledge Commentary