Nick and Joe.
Wealthy. Respected. Godly.
Sitting together. Outside the city. Like a couple of unwelcome cowboys tossed out of the local saloon. Why? According to Mosaic Law, they were unclean from contact with a dead body. Purification required:
- Separation “outside the camp” (Numbers 5:2-4)
- Seven days of uncleanness with purification rites on Days 3 and 7 (Numbers 19:11-22)
- A wait of one month before celebrating the Passover they missed during their “campout” (Numbers 9:6-11)
Does it count if the dead body you handled resurrects three days later?
So, here sat Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, two members of the Sanhedrin, tapped for undertaker duties. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost said this:
Christ made preparations for all events associated with His death, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled. This word (secretly in John 19:38) may indicate that Jesus had arranged with Joseph to make arrangements for His burial to fulfill Old Testament prophecy . . . It may well be that Joseph had hidden himself away in the recesses of the garden where he could witness the events transpiring on Golgotha without being observed. At the moment Christ cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and dismissed His spirit from his body, Joseph was ready to proceed with the burial.” (From Dr. Pentecost’s book, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ)
Makes me wonder how it all went down. Did Jesus tap Nicodemus too? Did Joseph? Or did Nicodemus catch wind of it and volunteer to help? He brought seventy-five pounds of spices. That took some prep.
Did Jesus Himself come to them on Day 3 and perform their purification rites, or was purification a moot point? Did Jesus celebrate Passover with them the next month?
Can you imagine the next Passover for any of these disciples?
What can we learn from these two? Let’s train at the tomb today:
- No task is too small when the Master is asking. We all have our Esther moments of “for such a time as this.” We hope for a glamorous, mountain-top event. Yet, for Nick and Joe, two big fish in the Jewish pond of Jerusalem, the task was undertaker.
- Public perception means nothing in light of the big picture. Two prominent members of the Jewish council camped out with the lepers for the weekend. “Outside” the in-crowd for once. I don’t think they missed it.
- True cleanliness often means getting our hands dirty. Relationships trump ceremonial cleanliness. People died. Uncleanness wasn’t bad. Uncleanness wasn’t sin. Uncleanness simply separated one for a time. True cleanliness of heart means meeting people where they are, whether it’s a bloody cross or outside the camp.
Can you picture the two? Beneath the stars. Safe from arrest by their own uncleanness. Waiting for the Passover Lamb.
Nail your spiritual workouts and change your corner of the gym.
Workout for the Week: Get Outside the Camp
Memory Verse: “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone . . . who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. Numbers 5:2 (NIV)
Meditation Passage: John 19:38-42
Just Do It: Be willing to get your hands dirty.
True cleanliness means meeting people where they are, whether it’s a bloody cross or outside the camp. Click to tweet.