Day Sixty-One with Mark: Mark 15:42-47

Today we are going to look at the burial of Jesus in Mark 15:42-47:

42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Holy_Friday_Christ_burial_01_270px.jpgWe see here in this passage Jesus’ burial.  Lots of things that were common in the culture and that set the tone for the resurrection are here, that we may not see at first.

First, notice the layers this passage jumps through to prove that Jesus was actually dead.  Pilate had to sign off.  The centurion told Pilate that He was dead.  This text establishes for everyone to see that Jesus was actually dead. We even see Pilate wondering, was Jesus really dead.  And the text answers, yes.  Yes he was.

So, what happens next is even more amazing.  Mark wanted you to know that yes, Jesus had died.

We see as well Joseph taking Jesus body and burying it in him tomb. This is one of those things as Westerners we don’t really get, a tomb in that tradition would have been a cave. But within that cave, there would have been different sections where the body would have been laid in preparation for final burial.

If you have a minute, take a look this video, it’s from our recent trip to the Holy Land, and my friend Mackey Yokum explains more about what this process would have looked like.

But to me, one of the significant parts is this.  Jesus didn’t have his own tomb.  And Joseph allowed Him to use his.  In other words, Joseph was saying Jesus was family.  Joseph came by night to hear Jesus teach.  Now he is declaring: Jesus is family.

Jesus changed his life.  That’s what Jesus does.  He changed Joseph’s life.

And Monday we’ll look at Mark 16:1-8.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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What Does it Mean to be a Christian – Words from a Christian from Bethlehem

20160110_074018This is my new friend Daniel Yacoub. Daniel was our guide at the Church of the Nativity, the place where Jesus Christ was born. This is in Bethlehem. We met Daniel, he got on our bus and walked with us to the church. I thought this was a little unusual; I’d never taken a guide into the church before. But Sam told me that it is was just something that they have started doing now, to keep people from walking down the streets, as well as providing a little order to the area.

At first, I was a little skeptical. I mean, we’ve got Sam Morris, why do we need a guide?

But, Daniel works with Bo’ez Field souvenir store, where I always encourage groups to purchase their souvenirs. This store is run by Christians, and they use the money that they made to support the Christian community. I often say that it is a literal Acts 2 church, a church literally taking care of widows and orphans. Also, with my reading of Acts 15, when the Gentiles became Christian, the Jerusalem church says that one of the things these more prosperous Christians should do is remember the poor in Jerusalem. That describes us in the West to a T. I believe we have an obligation to remember and support our poor brothers and sisters in this part of the world.

So, I gave Daniel a chance. And man he was good. He knew his stuff. He took us around, showed us everything. But I want to tell you what he told us.

We had just finished touching the star through which you can touch the rock on which Jesus was born. And Daniel was telling us about being a Christian. It’s not easy being a Christian in this part of the world. They are shrinking minority. They aren’t trusted by fellow Palsteitnies that are Muslim because the are “Nazarene,” followers of Jesus. They aren’t trusted by the Israelis because they are Palestinian. They literally just have their community to support and care for one another.

By the way as an aside, let us never, ever, ever mistake any discomfort we may feel in the West for the actual persuasion that my friend Daniel faces here in this part of the world.

Daniel once asked his father, how he could tell a Christian. He said that on the outside Christians and Muslims look the same. His father said look at the face. He said that a Christian has been touched by the Messiah. You can tell it in the face. You can tell that the Messiah has placed His hand on them, has touched them, has changed them. You can tell it on their face. You can look it the face of a fellow believer and tell that they have been touched by the Savior.

I am supposed to read the story of Jesus birth at this time. But as Daniel tells us this, I start to cry. This my friends. This is the most beautiful explanation of what it means to be a Christian that I’ve ever heard, and it comes from someone in the place where Jesus was born.

A Christian is one that has been touched by the Messiah. You can tell it when you look at them in the face. Jesus said the eyes are the windows to the soul.

Pray for each other. Love each other. Pray for our brothers and sisters in this part of the world. Pray for brothers and sisters under the control of ISIS.

And y’all, seriously. For those of us in the West that don’t take our faith seriously, we’ve got to do better. I’m always convicted about that when I come here. How distracted I get. How I focus on things that don’t matter. We’ve been given so much here in the West, and we’ve got to be faithful and to use it.

Remember my friend Daniel, pray for him and for his family.

And remember a Christian is one that has been touched by the Messiah.