RICH MAN’S GRAVE
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
The Bible is quite an amazing book. This passage is one of the most loved prophecies about the death of our Lord. These words, written 700 years before Christ was born, are stunning in their incredibly precise detail, even including the burial of Christ in a rich man’s grave. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, a powerful leader in the nation of Israel. He had become a secret follower of Jesus, but the time had come for him to step forward. When Jesus had breathed His last, Joseph mustered up his courage and went to Pilate to ask for the body. Not everyone could get an instant audience with Pilate, Joseph must have been quite an influential man. These two actions, going to Pilate and giving his tomb to Jesus, were two great steps of faith. The first required courage, to face the man with the power of life and death in Israel. His second act, to give away his tomb, was an act of faith and generosity. Mark said that Joseph was a man, “waiting for the kingdom of God”. When this moment came, he gave this gift, a gift worth thousands of dollars (someone recently priced a cemetery plot at 38,000 thousand dollars). He was giving this gift in the hope of the resurrection. Actually all of us who are waiting for the kingdom of God give our gifts in anticipation of the resurrection. We have decided to live for the world to come, not for this temporary world that most people embrace. Those living for this world never think about resurrection or new life, those who have experienced it can think of little else.
What can we learn from this rich man’s offering? He purchased a place for dead things to come alive. That is what the church is all about. Many people today criticize the local church, I love His church. The church, like Joseph’s tomb is the place of resurrection. It is the place where dead things, actually dead people come alive. If you are waiting for the kingdom, like Joseph, make sure you take the advice of that rich man. Invest your time, talents, and finances in the only place in this life that experiences that resurrection life. When you look at the local church, at first glance it may not look like much, tombs are not very impressive. But take a second look, this might be the place where you experience life from the dead.