Author: Ryan Schindler, English Pastor, San Francisco Swatow Christian Church, San Francisco
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
(John 19:39-42, NIV)
God often uses people’s unique backgrounds and positions in life to accomplish His work and purposes. In John 19 God used two unlikely men to oversee the burial of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied hundreds of years before that God’s messiah would die a criminal’s death, but end up buried in a rich man’s tomb. Joseph’s wealth was used for God’s purposes when he had purchased this tomb in advance for himself and his family, but instead used it to bury Jesus. His crucifixion had been ordered by the Sanhedrin which was the Jewish ruling council that was led by the high priest and was made up of members who were high ranking Jewish priest’s elders. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin and they were also secret disciples of Jesus. Previously Nicodemus had cautiously approached Jesus at night out of fear of what his colleagues would think of him. Although secret discipleship is not encouraged in the Bible, God used these two men from the council that had ordered the death of Jesus in order to give him the burial fit for a king and to add to the credibility of the resurrection. The Sanhedrin later sought to discredit the resurrection by claiming his body had been stolen by his disciples. If any of the eleven disciples had been given the body, the fact of the resurrection may have forever been viewed with suspicion. These men stepped out in faith to be publicly identified with Jesus and their actions have added validity to the resurrection and fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. They likely had little idea of the significance of their actions or appreciated that God had put them in positions that were perfect to accomplish something great in history. Today God still uses our positions in life, our skills, occupations, and unique relationships we have to accomplish His work. How can you step out in faith to be used by Him?
The ISAAC 2009 Lenten Devotional, edited by Rev. Dr. Johnson Chiu. This devotional was written by Asian American English ministry leaders and pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. To purchase, click here: Road of Suffering, Road to Glory: A Lenten Adventure with the Savior