FORWARD in FAITH #3

"Standing for Jesus!"

Luke 23:50-56; 1 Cor. 15:3-4

 

Guest Speaker, Pastor Lloyd Tremain

February 16, 2020 

 

"Father, Open my eyes so I can see Your truth. Open my ears so I can hear Your voice. Open my mind so I can understand Your Holy, true and righteous Word. Let my heart be open so I may receive all that You want me to receive today so I can be Your hands and feet, sharing it with others. In Jesus’ name!”  Take the outline in the bulletin and fill in the blanks as a resource. (The message resource can be found at the end of this transcript.)

 

The last 2 weeks we've examined some foundations of our faith. We’ve heard how Christian life begins by Sitting and Soaking at Jesus’ Feet. How did you do with that this week? Each phase of spiritual life leads in one direction with God which is...Forward in Faith! The Christian life consists of Sitting at Jesus’ feet, Soaking in Him, Standing for Him, Walking by His side, and Running in His ways. So, “What's God like to you now?” “How do you know Him?” At the end of Jesus’ life we see a powerful scene which demonstrates what Jesus calls us to do next.

 

(Luke 23:50-56) “Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked [boldly] for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. ”

 

ln an old Our Daily Bread, it told the story of a professing Christian who got a job in a lumber camp that had the reputation of being very ungodly. A friend heard that he’d been hired, and said to him, “lf those lumberjacks ever find out you’re a Christian, you’re going to be in for a hard time!” The man said, “l know, but I need the job!" The next morning he left for camp. A year later, he came home for a visit. While in town, he met his friend who asked, “WeIl, how did it go? Did they give you a hard time because you’re a Christian?” “Oh no, they didn’t give me a bit of trouble-—they never even found out!"

 

Even though we may laugh at that story, some of us cringe because it hits too close to home! Yes, we live in a world that's hostile to Christianity. lt’s easy to just blend in, to laugh at bad jokes, never to confront gossip, and never say a word that would identify us as a Christian. Besides, it might cost us our reputation or maybe even our job! Sometimes even among Christian friends it’s hard to hold to your convictions for fear of what they’ll think. That's why we should be interested in the story of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus.

 

Not many know where Arimathea was located (25 miles NW of Jerusalem), but the designation helps distinguish him from other Josephs in the Bible. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, (a group of 70 men who governed the religious and many of the civic matters in Israel). It was members of the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to death, although Joseph hadn’t supported their plans and actions. But probably he hadn’t spoken out as strongly as he should have. John 19:38 tells us that he was a “secret” disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews. His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ, even though in his heart he knew that he should have done so.

 

And now, Jesus is dead! His disciples had gone into hiding, and Joseph gathered his courage (Mark 15:43), went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus so he could at least give Him a proper burial. lf he hadn't done that, Jesus’ body probably would have been thrown on a heap of garbage and burned, which would have robbed us of some of the major resurrection proofs.

 

So we can thank Joseph for a proper burial site and for giving us many evidences for our faith. He didn’t seem to have anything to gain and everything to lose by identifying himself with Jesus. Jesus was dead and no one was expecting His resurrection. He watched as Jesus breathed His last and it would have been so much easier for Joseph to think, “Oh, well! Jesus was a good man and a prophet of God. It's too bad these things happen. But, life goes on. l’II have more influence if l don't rock the boat and keep my seat on the Sanhedrin. I'd better not do anything to upset anyone and jeopardize my position of influence.”

 

But in spite of the risks, Joseph came out of hiding and took a stand for Jesus by providing Him a proper burial place. He gives us an example of what the Lord wants of all believers...to take a stand for Him in the world. “Ok” you say! “So, how am I supposed to do that in my life?" l'm going to ask those questions again...“What’s God to you?” “How Do you Trust Him?"

 

I think we can find many reasons to stand for Jesus from God’s Word. But l’m going to focus on one main place to start... go stand at the foot of the cross!

 

l can’t say for certain what made Joseph come out of hiding. Maybe it was the result of a long process. He’d heard Jesus’ teaching, especially that final week in the temple. He’d heard reports of His miracles, especially raising Lazarus from the dead. Knowing the Scriptures, he probably realized that Jesus uniquely fulfilled messianic prophecies. He also could see and hear the jealousy and selfishness of his fellow members of the council. Unlike the majority of them, Luke says Joseph was “a good and righteous man,”... “who was waiting for the kingdom of God” (23:50-51; see 2:25). You heard that! As Joseph's convictions about Jesus grew, he may have grown more uncomfortable with the views of his fellow members of the Sanhedrin. But I think that the deciding factor that pushed Joseph over the line was standing at the cross and watching Jesus die. Luke 23:47-48 says that even the centurion who saw the events at the cross, especially Jesus’ final cry, caused him to praise God. Then the next verse says, “When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” (Luke 23:49).

 

Not only were His followers watching, but a member of the Council was there! Joseph saw the sky get dark, heard Jesus’ final words from the cross, felt the earthquake, heard a centurion’s praise, and watched all the people leave in sorrow! All of this gathered steam in Joseph’s mind until he broke down, “That's it! I can't hide my convictions any longer. I don't care what it costs me, I’m going to Pilate so that I can give this Man the decent burial He deserves!”

 

The cross is the center of the Christian faith. While we can’t look at the events first hand, as Joseph and the others did that day, we should come often to the foot of the cross and think about its implications. Paul summed up the gospel saying, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, “that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day... ” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The cross is central to the Gospel (see Gal. 2:20; 6:14). lf you go there often, you’ll never be the same. The Cross will remind and strengthen you to take a stand for Christ. Let’s look at those 4 parts Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 15:3-4...

 

A. Jesus DIED. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...”

 

That may sound obvious, but it's an important fact to establish. If Jesus didn’t actually die, then the purpose of His death was meaningless. Jesus didn’t just “swoon" or go into a semi-comatose state, so He could “come to" and be revived later. The gospels make it clear that Jesus died. The soldiers knew Jesus was dead so they didn’t have to break His legs to make Him suffocate. Instead, one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side, to see if his blood and water had separated verifying His death (Jn. 19:31-34). Also, Mark 15:44-45 says that Pilate waited to hear from the trained Roman centurion (like a coroner) that Jesus was dead before he even let Joseph take the body. All the eyewitness testimonies, verify without question, that Jesus was physically dead!

 

These seemingly little details about Jesus’ death also fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. The fact that they were fulfilled in such an obviously unintentional way underscores God's sovereignty and the perfect accuracy of biblical prophecy. For example, the fact that the soldiers broke the legs of the 2 men on either side of Jesus, but didn't break His legs, in spite of orders to do so, fulfilled the Scripture that none of the Passover lamb's bones should be broken (Exod. 12:46; Ps. 34:20). The soldier’s piercing of Jesus’ side was probably a whim on his part, but he fulfilled Zech. 12:10, which says that Israel “will look on Me whom they have pierced.”  Going to the cross will also remind us why He went there on purpose...

 

B. Jesus died for OUR SINS. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures... ”

 

Jesus did not just die a ‘common’ death, like that of the 2 thieves. He offered Himself as the Lamb of God, who is the perfect sacrifice for the sins we have all indulged in. The darkness at noon revealed the judgment that God poured out on Jesus. His cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” reveals His agony as He took on God’s wrath for our sins. The torn veil in the temple shows that through His death, Jesus opened the way for us to come into the holy of holies. As we think often of what Christ did for us there, it will help us take a bold stand for Him who endured all of that out of love for us. If He didn’t die, then He wasn’t resurrected in which case, “Unless Christ was raised to life, your faith is useless, and you are still living in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17). Going to the cross will also remind us...

 

C. Jesus was BURIED.

 

Why does Paul mention Jesus’ burial in his summary of the gospel? Jesus’ burial is further evidence of His death. If there had been a glimmer of life left in Him, surely those who helped take His body down from the cross, and take it to the tomb would have noticed. As mentioned, the fact of His burial in the tomb, as opposed to being tossed in the dump outside the Dung Gate, provides us with several proofs of His resurrection.

 

lsaiah 53:9 had announced 500 years before, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.” The gospels all verified it telling us that Joseph was a rich man (Matt. 27:57). lt’s significant that Joseph buried Jesus in his own hewn tomb, where no one had ever been laid because his burial fulfilled lsaiah’s prophecy. The fact that it was a new tomb gives further evidence that Jesus’ body could not have been mixed up with any other body from that tomb.

 

A heavy stone was rolled against the entrance, sealed with the Roman seal and guarded by an elite Roman guard. All these things give us even more evidence that the tomb was secure from grave robbers. If Jesus wasn’t a real sinless man who died for our sins then we’d have no salvation. “The Lord decided His Servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others.” (lsaiah 53:10a CEV) So it’s important to affirm Jesus' death and burial. His was the only body there. The disciples saw the grave clothes lying where Jesus had been laid in the tomb and now His body was gone!

 

All of these facts about Jesus’ death and burial should strengthen our resolve to take a bold stand for Him because they give us solid evidence. Going to the cross we see...

 

D. Jesus was RAISED from the dead on the 3rd day.

 

Paul writes, “Christ died for our sins...He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). As you know, the resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. It is God’s proof to all men that He will do everything He promises. If you struggle with taking a bold stand for Christ, go often to the foot of the cross and remember that Christ not only died to pay for your sins, but He was raised from the dead and that He is coming again to judge all people in righteousness (Acts 17:31).

 

Yes, I know it’s not “easy” to take a definite, bold stand for Christ. Why, because it’s costly and we can only do it if we understand and prepare ourselves for the cost and the results. We aren't told what happened to Joseph of Arimathea after the day he buried Jesus, but it's not too abstract to guess that he may have paid a heavy price. We may face similar repercussions. Remember what Jesus told His disciples twice, “You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) and “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” (Matt. 24:9)

 

Joseph gave up his personal tomb, that’s an expensive thing to do. Remember, he was not expecting it to be vacated in 3 days! He could’ve bought a cheaper tomb for Jesus, out in the country somewhere, but he gave Jesus his best. He took Jesus down from the cross and transported His body to the grave before sunset. He also bought linen wrappings and spices. He may have had to bribe Pilate to release Jesus’ body. But he was willing to give generously because he believed Jesus was his Lord and Messiah.

 

So What?


Are you willing to stand for Christ in all the rest of your life? If so, say, “I Will Stand for Christ!”

 

I think we should daily ask ourselves this question for the rest of our life. Wherever life takes you, whatever happens to you, whatever you face or deal with that you couldn't possibly know of right now, I pray our deepest passion and commitment will be the reality that we STAND for Jesus Christ. Every chance I get, every place I go, this is what my life is going to be about.

 

That's a powerful commitment. God can do awesome things with a person who is totally yielded to Him. There will be a day (unless the Lord returns first) when you will have a tombstone. Written on it will be a summary of your life. It would be amazing if it said, “This person put their full faith and trust in Jesus Christ.” What would be more important to your eternity than hearing God welcome you into Heaven saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:21)

 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 

1 Tim. 1:6-14
 

CLOSING WEB SONG: “The Stand”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YEviFciNcY


Message Resource:

 

FORWARD in FAITH #3

Standing for Jesus!

Luke 23:50-56; 1 Cor. 15:3-4

 

Pastor Lloyd Tremain

February 16, 2020 

 

INTRODUCTION:


One direction with God = forward in faith!

 

“What’s God like to you?” 


 

“How do you know Him?” 



Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus.

(Mark 15:43; Luke 23:47-51; see 2:25)


Go stand at the foot of the cross!


Paul summed up the gospel . . .  (1 Cor. 15:34).


A. Jesus _____________.

(John 19:31-34; Mark 15:44-45).
The soldier’s piercing Jesus’ side (Exod. 12:46; Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10).

 

B. Jesus died for _____________  ______________.
(Ps. 42:9; Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34)

 

C. Jesus was __________________.
(Matthew 27:57; Isaiah 53:9)

 

D. Jesus was ______________ from the dead on the 3rd day.
(Acts 17:31; Matt. 10:22; 24:9)

 

So What?


Are you willing to stand for Christ in all the rest of your life? If so, say, “I Will Stand for Christ!”

 

Discussion Questions:

 

1. How do we know when to take a bold stand and when to be more diplomatic and polite? ls there ever a legitimate place for compromise?

 

2. How can a people-pleaser learn to become a God-pleaser?


3. How do we know when we've given enough to the Lord's work?

 

4. What is the difference between being bold for Christ and being abrasive? Was Jesus always "nice" to unbelievers?

 

5. What’s God like? Do you know Him? Do you trust Him?
(other scriptures to consider...

1 Peter 3:13-17; 5:8-9; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Tim. 1:6-14; Matt. 10:32-33; Luke 21 :19, 28)