November 14 – Entombed

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 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 because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:40-42 ESV)

Jesus’ body was placed in Joseph’s tomb on the day that he died. It was a tomb cut from the rock near where the crucifixion took place. With the Sabbath approaching Joseph used the already prepared tomb in the garden to lay Jesus in.

Jesus is often referred to as the second Adam. The first Adam first sinned in a garden. It seems only fitting that the death to end the threat of sin and death should result in our savior being buried in a garden.

He was buried. He was dead. But he didn’t stay dead. He didn’t stay buried. He was laid in a borrowed tomb, but he arose the conqueror of death, Hell, and the grave.

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November 13 – Prophecy: Borrowed Tomb

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. (Isaiah 53:9 ESV)

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:57-60 ESV)

Isaiah lived and prophesied about 700 years before the time of Jesus. His writings have so many references to Christ that his book is often referred to as the fifth Gospel. One of Isaiah’s predictions was that Jesus would be buried in a tomb given to him by a rich man.

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich councilman, and a secret follower of Jesus. He used his political power and wealth to influence the Romans to give him Jesus’ body for an early burial. All of it happened so fast that Jesus was buried on the same day he was crucified.

Joseph played a pivotal part in the history of Christianity. Do you think he knew how important his tomb would be when he was having it cut? Probably not. But he took his wealth and power and offered them to God to be used for His purpose. It is an incredible lesson.

What we have is not ours alone. We are stewards. How can we use it to bless others? How can we put our assets to work for God’s plan?

November 12 – Secret Followers

Read: John 19:38-42

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was 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 away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. (John 19:38, 39 ESV)

Joseph and Nicodemus had decided to follow Jesus as disciples, but not in the open. They were two of Jesus’ secret followers. I can’t help but think how that might have changed for them the day they buried the Son of God.

Do you ever wonder if they understood the full implications of all that was going on? Did they truly know who Jesus was? If they were too afraid to follow him openly why did they decide to claim his body?

I don’t have all of the answers, but I feel like scripture points us to one possibility. The death of Jesus changed everything. Creation itself responded in some pretty incredible ways. The supernatural activity of the day may have been the push Joseph and Nicodemus needed to move beyond mental consent and into the realm of heartfelt following.

How open are you about your faith? Do you keep it a secret because of what you think others will think about you? If so, what will it take for you to move beyond being a secret follower to just plain following?

November 11 – No Consensus

Read: Luke 23:50-56

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. (Luke 23:50, 51 ESV)

Jesus’ body was claimed and prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathaea. He was a member of the Jewish council and had not consented to the murderous course of the religious leaders. Too often Christianity has broadbrushed the Jews of Jesus era, over generalizing them until they are nearly unrecognizable. Not all of the Jews, or their leaders, wanted Jesus dead. But without carefully reading the story it can seem that way. It can seem as if everyone really and truly was against God.

Even today we see this principle at work. Society had told us that Christianity is outdated and no longer relevant. To listen to mainstream talking heads it sounds like Christianity is starting to find itself on the outs. But that isn’t the case. In all actuality, the detractors and naysayers are just louder. Like in Jesus’ day, the opinion is often that if you yell loud enough and.frequently enough you will get your way. But getting your way is not the same as having a consensus. It isn’t the same as being right. Decibel level has no correlation to correctness.

Don’t be discouraged if the world around you seems loud and obnoxious. Perhaps someone is merely waiting for you to make your stand before they decide to join you from the shadows.

February 2 – An Obvious Place

Read: Luke 2:41-50

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 ESV)

Every year to celebrate the Passover Jesus travelled with his family to Jerusalem, a journey of roughly 140 miles over rough and rugged terrain. When he was twelve he went missing for a couple of days which of course upset Mary and Joseph quite a lot. Any good parent has a strong reaction to the news that their child is missing. They returned and were looking for him. Only to discover him listening and teaching in the Temple.

Have you ever lost something really important only to turn around and find it in the most obvious of places? In this story we begin to see the future of Jesus who is all about His Father’s business. We also get to witness his understanding of his unique identity as both God and man. Jesus showed his divine nature in his actions at the Temple, but he also showed his human nature in his submission to Mary and Joseph.

Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking for things, whether answers or objects, and they are in the most obvious of places. Many people spend insane amounts of time, effort, and resources to achieve a peace that is offered in the most obvious of places, Jesus.

February 1 – Grow

Read: Luke 2:39-40

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40 ESV)

When Herod the Great died Joseph returned to Nazareth with his young family. It was in Nazareth that the young boy Jesus grew into the mighty God-man we read of in the Gospels. Jesus became strong as he grew. He was filled with wisdom. But it was a process as relates to his human nature.

Growing is an essential part of all life. We start small and young and progress in age, size, and capability, or at least we should. Growing up on a farm I got to be pretty familiar with growing things. Whether it was an animal or plant, the phrase if its not growing its dying held pretty true. We should have a desire to continually grow in our relationship with God.

When we begin our personal journey with God we are like children. We may have great passion, enthusiasm, and faith, but we often lack the kind of maturity that fills us with strength and wisdom. Spending time with the Father gives us both strength and wisdom. Not so we can better manage things on our own, but so that we will trust God even more.

Jesus enjoyed the favor of God because of his growth. Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also a man. And as he grew from boy to man he followed the Law of God, sought after the heart of God, and it produced in his human nature the strength, wisdom, and favor of God.

January 31 – Out of Egypt

Read: Hosea 11 & Matthew 2:13-25

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1 ESV)

In 700 B.C. the prophet Hosea wrote that Jesus’ family would flee to Egypt as refugees. It was a courageous and faithful act on the part of Jesus’ adopted father Joseph that saved the young Messiah’s life. But to further fulfill prophecy, and ultimately the mission of God for mankind, Jesus had to leave Egypt.

I really believe that along the way God sometimes directs us to places that are more like pit stops than they are destinations. We can, and should, do whatever good we can at these stops, but ultimately they are small parts of our journey. Whatever reason God has for sending us to those places, it is usually more about protecting us, helping us learn and grow, or helping someone there, than anything else. Sometimes you have to flee to your own personal Egypt to become who you are supposed to be, but you almost always have to leave it behind to step into your destiny.

Jesus didn’t spend an incredibly long time in Egypt. Joseph only kept him there until the danger had passed and it was time to return to Nazareth. It would still be many years before Jesus would begin his public ministry. Sometimes God takes us from one season of preparation to another. These seasons look different, are often at different locations, and come with a plethora of diverse learning experiences. Don’t be in a hurry to speed through these times. God can still use us in times of growth and learning. He will call us out of it when we’re ready for the fullness of His plan.