When they took Jesus down after he had died, he had to be buried. And in his burial we see two lessons or two things that we can learn from. One of these was to do with the burial itself, and the other to do with who was involved in the burial. In both instances we see that even though Jesus had died he was still teaching us things. So let us have a look at these two points that we see from his burial.
The Sign of Jonah
The first thing we see is that when Jesus was buried it was going to web a very short lived affair. He had already prophesied to the people that death would not hold him and he spoke to them of the sign of Jonah. In Matthew 12:39-40 he said, “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Jonah spent three days in the belly of the great fish before he wears finally released to go and preach to the people at Nineveh. In the same way Jesus fulfilled the prophecy about himself when he was buried for three days. And when he was finally released from the grave in his resurrection, he would commence a the work that would bring mankind salvation. That is, as the men of Nineveh were saved through Jonah when they listened to and took heed of his preaching, so too all of mankind would be able to be saved through the teachings of Jesus Christ when they listened to him.
Joseph of Arimathea
We are told that the burial of Jesus was organised by a man named Joseph who came from a place called Arimathea. It says of him, “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.” (verses 50-51).
Joseph was a good man. He was a member of the council and therefore he was a man of power and influence amongst the people. And as we have seen in earlier parts of this chapter, it was the rulers and the council who had determined to put Jesus to death. And yet amongst those evil men we see that there were good and upright people who were looking for the truth and who recognised Jesus as the Christ.
Lessons for Today
There are two things we can take away from this. First, we cannot and must not generalise about anyone. It would have been wrong to condemn the entire council and to call them evil, because clearly there was at least one good man amongst them who did not go along with the evil plans and intentions of the council. Joseph had not consented to the actions of the council and thus he stood apart from them as a good man, and it is said of him that he was looking for the kingdom of God.
The second lesson we pick up from this is also linked to prophecy that relates to the end times and our times as well, and it is also about not generalising about the state of a mans heart. The book of Revelation talks about a Babylonish religion in the end times. This will be an evil, adulterous and idol worshipping religion that will lead many people astray from the truth.
But just as we saw in the case of Joseph and the council where there was at least one good man, a man of God amongst these other evil men, so too in the end times religion of Babylon there will be some good people amongst the evil. The prophecy of the Lord tells us this for he says to his people in the end times that are in this Babylonish system, “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
There will be some people in this evil religious system at the end times. But God will call his people out of that system and remove them from it so that they do not suffer as the rest will. That system of religion is doomed to destruction along with those who follow in it. But just as Joseph was a good man in an evil council, so too there will be good and God fearing people in that evil religious system of Babylon.
So again we should not generalise about any of the systems of worship we see today. It is possible, even highly likely that there will be Gods people amongst those systems of worship that may be less than perfect. Too often we see people rant and rave about some particular church, but those churches too may have good people in them. We cannot generalise and call all of them evil, wrong thinking or false to the truth as the Lord knows those who are his even in such churches.
So this scripture provides us with a good reminder to be careful what we think and say about others. We may be unwittingly defaming those who are the people of God. It may be that the Lord has them there for some purpose that we are unaware of, so we cannot and should not judge. In due course he will call them out if that is his purpose.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Herman Brinkman)