Nick and Joe Save Easter
Our pastor gave a tremendous service on Easter Sunday. You can listen to the sermon on a podcast. I have put in the highlights of what I took from his sermon.
The title was Nick and Joe Save Easter.
Of course he talked about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
The following is how I interpreted his talk.
In Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, a family member could not mourn or remove the body of a crucified victim. The body was to stay up as a reminder to others. The body would, after a few days, be taken to the garbage dump, Gehenna, which always had a fire burning.
Both Nick and Joe were Pharisees (the rule makers; their job was to be good; they believed that God spoke only to them).
But Nick and Joe along with others had secret conversations with Jesus. Nicodemus was selected to go ask Jesus the IMPORTANT QUESTION. “How can I know that I have a right standing with God?” Jesus answered him before he asked the question.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”” (John 3:3 NIV).
“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit”” John 3:5 NIV).
All the while this is going on the other Pharisees are preparing to get rid of Jesus. (They were afraid of losing their power.) What really opened Nick and Joe’s eyes was the resurrection of Lazarus. They saw the stone rolled away. They heard Jesus speak and say “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:41-43 NIV).
Most of the Pharisees went away deciding that Jesus had to be dealt with – His power terrified them. The few of the secret group went away questioning what had happened. They knew their history of the Jewish people. They remembered Isaiah 53:5.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Then God’s Hand put the rest of the Easter Story into play. After Jesus was crucified, Joseph went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body. Pilate sent soldiers to check if Jesus were truly dead. He was. This was extremely important to the Story. Pilate let Joseph take the body down and put it in a tomb. He must have bribed the ‘powers that be’ to do that. He was the right person for the job.
Even when the disciples deserted Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph believed.
“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 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.Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 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. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there”(John 19:38-42 NIV).
Even though Jesus died they had courage to follow the prophets of old and faith and courage to look after the body.
No disciple stayed at the tomb. Not one of them.
But on Sunday the stone was rolled away and Easter happened.
You know the rest of the story.
I like that God had the plan – He used ordinary people “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14 NIV).
How can He use me? How can He use you?
Let’s ask Him.
Happy Easter. He is risen. He is risen indeed.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Jesus – for giving up Your Son for us. We thank You for using regular people to accomplish Your purposes like Nick and Joe. We ask that You use us as You wish to further Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
I had read Easter morning before the church service, from Oswald Chambers these words:
“As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” [Jesus spoke these words before His ascension into Heaven] “Holy Spirit” is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now.”
Once again it confirmed for me that we must be reborn spiritually.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14 NIV).