How real is your faith?

John 19:38-42

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby

 Two from the Jewish leadership responsible for Jesus’ shameful death and treatment now come to care for the body of Jesus following the traditions and customs of the Jews.  Joseph, Luke tells us is a member of the council, one of those looking for the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus is the ruler who came to Jesus by night seeking answers.  They, Joseph and Nicodemus,  looked for the kingdom of God. They were willing to give all for it.  Nicodemus received personal revelation  of what was to come.  The Christian call to the unbeliever, John 3:16, comes during Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in answer to his questions about the new birth in Christ.  Jesus told him he, Jesus, must be lifted up as the serpents were by Moses.  Jesus told him why he came and what to expect.

These two, with much to lose, come to take the body of Jesus and prepare it for burial.  Where are the disciples, those who spent time with him daily being taught and loved?  Where are the ones we would consider the close friends and family?  There is no mention of family here.  Significant perhaps is the fact that two prepare the body and place it in the tomb, with no other body there.  A witness of two that he is deceased and in a tomb with no other so there can be no confusion.  For the demonstration of power that is to follow in the resurrection these are significant facts. 

Note also, the power of God to reach beyond death to touch the lives of two men and their response; they put their position in the community on the line and the ability to participate in an important religious feast is jeopardized by touching a dead body. Can we learn to trust God beyond our traditions, our obligations to religion, beyond living in a hostile environment?  For God so loved the world…his creation…he gave…  Lets do likewise and give…

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Preparation…

Luke 22:31-38

And the Lord said,  “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”

So they said, “Nothing.”

 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’  For the things concerning Me have an end.”

So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”

And He said to them, “It is enough.”

 Jesus continues with his single-minded purpose, taking the time to prepare his disciples for what is to come. “ …this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ …” He prays for Peter and later we read he prays for us all.  His request of Peter is that he strengthen his brothers.  We are told to pray for one another.  We let the Spirit do the work, we call on the Lord, lifting our brothers and sisters before him in prayer.  There is power in prayer and it is unleashed like the hand on the switch releases the power of electricity to do its work. There is a time to go with nothing and the Lord will provide and a time to make preparations to face what may come.  We have been given what we will need to face any conflict.  It is up to us to seek it and use it.  Christ’s focus is evident once more in his willingness to fulfill prophecy.  He faced it, knew what he was going into and took care of his disciples.  Outward focus, a purpose, an objective, and faithful to his assignment.  We can do no less.