A MAN NAMED JOSEPH
Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
According to Genesis 30:24, the name, “Joseph,” means “added!” Rachel said that her son Joseph was added in order to take away her reproach of being previously barren. And if there was ever a man, rightly named, it is this Joseph upon whom we are to focus our attention! For he most surely was “added” in a dark hour, when no other disciples were available, and even when the Lord himself was dead, and there was no public ministry! And he accomplished a most necessary task to take away the reproach of Jesus’ body, not allowing it to continue to hang on the cross!
Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
He was not ever said to be involved with the other disciples before this. He was not listed as being present at any miracle, nor at any healing. There are not even any recorded words that he ever spoke. And when it was recorded that he did speak, it was to Pilate, and not to any of the Christian community!
And all the while the Lord was alive and among his other disciples, our Joseph is kept from any public acclaim of Jesus for the exact same reason that all the other disciples did when he was dead! For during the Lord’s life and ministry, Joseph was said to be a secret disciple, for fear of the Jews! (John 19:38). And so it was that while the Lord was dead, all other disciples became secretive, for fear of the Jews! (John 20:19).
And we must take notice of the first two words which Luke uses to introduce Joseph into his writings. Luke is seemingly so surprised as to who it was that came forth when all the disciples were in hiding that he exclaims, “And, BEHOLD!” That is, “Take notice of this!” For there was no expectation from the disciples that Joseph should ever be of any benefit to the kingdom of God!
For do we not have an accounting of Joseph’s character by the Apostle John? John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. And Joseph, like Nicodemus, was “a counsellor,” a “ruler of the Jews.” They were both of “the chief rulers,” as stated in the above verses. But the inordinate fear kept him back from a public owening of his discipleship of the Lord! – But was not that the same case with all the other disciples when Joseph went in boldly unto Pilate (Mk. 15:43)? Were they then not hiding for the same fear as once Joseph had?
Joseph, as if a picture of all of us today, identifies with Christ in his death, when he did not in his life! 2Cor. 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 1Pet. 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
And why do we know him, except he first knew us! 1John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. The Lord identified with Joseph in his death, so that Joseph could identify with him in spiritual life! Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
The spirit in this modern day of soul winning, and decisional regeneration, has so brained washed the minds of those affiliated with religion, that it keeps us back from the sovereignty of God in the salvation of His elect! Both Stephen and Saul of Tarsus, (now Paul the Apostle), are rejoicing before the throne in heaven at this very moment! But God’s sovereign wisdom didn’t allow any fellowship between them on earth! In fact, Saul held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen!
God has determined both when, and where all his elect shall be brought to life in Christ! Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
And just how did the Sovereign God keep Joseph back from public discipleship with the other disciples? He made him rich! (Matt 27:52). Matt. 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, 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.
Do you remember why the young “ruler” went away sorrowful? He went away because “he had great possessions!” (Matt 19:22). But we see it is not impossible for a rich man to enter, just hard! For the Lord chose to share this rich man’s “own new tomb,” (Matt 27:60), in his death, in order that he migh share with him eternal life, even returning to this very tomb one day to reclaim Joseph’s body! For the Lord vacated Joseph’s tomb in only three days, returning it to him by his own resurrection! And as the Lord Jesus’ body was taken care of by Joseph, so shall Joseph’s body, still awaiting his resurrection morning in that same tomb, be taken care of by the Lord Jesus’ return to gather up all his elect! Phil. 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
And just how was Joseph brought to break the spell of his silent discipleship? One phrase that appears in the scriptures, associated with his name is that he “waited for the kingdom!” And at the cross, one of the thieves being crucified with Christ cried out, “Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Lk 23:42). And as Joseph’s ears were perked up at the reference of the kingdom for which he waited, he heard the Lord’s reply!
That same voice that had told those spiritual rulers, like Joseph, that harlots and publicans would go into the kingdom before them (Mt. 21:31), replied to that sinner such glorious words that Joseph must have had them pierce his very soul, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise!” His soul could have written those words we sing so often;
“Pass me not, O gentle Saviour;
Hear my humble cry!
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by!”
Joseph came to believe on Christ by seeing the glory of the cross. That is the same way we all came to believe! For it is he that seeth the Son and believeth on him, that hath life! (Jn. 6:40).
Now he could have also written those wonderful words;
“E’re since by faith ,
Thy flowing wound supply;
Redeeming live has been my theme;
And shall be ‘til I die!”
Now you can find Joseph’s name and deed written in all four of the gospels!
Pastor Gene Breed