“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.” Mark 15:43 NIV
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22 NKJV
I come from Africa (precisely Nigeria). I know first-hand what it means to have acquittance with people in important places. A man who does not know people is considered unfortunate because nobody will give him great opportunities in life. However, it is expected that having the right people in the right places is the short cut to promotion in life. Thus, whenever a man or woman is considered for a political position or an important position in the society, people congratulate and celebrate him/her, especially his/her own relatives and close friends because they will feel that their time has come for a lifting. In fact, I went recently to someone to ask what it will take to enter a federal parastatal in Nigeria as an employee, and he gave me a list of people that if I can meet, then the job is guaranteed for me. If a man is in any form of trouble, we normally ask him whether he knows anybody in high places, and we generally consider privileged relatives who do not ‘help’ us the way we wanted as wicked and selfish people.
So, here is Jesus being called to question before the Sanhedrin. As a Nigerian, I would have asked Him, “don’t you know anybody in the high places?” “Is their no one that can speak for you?” Oh, how I would have chided the Lord for not being ‘strategic’ in His discipleship so that He gather around Him important personalities that could speak out for Him in times of trouble. But then if He now tells me, “yes I have a man in the Council, a man by name Joseph from Arimathea.” Oh how I would have rejoiced to hear that news. Oh how I would have love to tell Him to come let’s lobby Joseph the Arimathean, and even Nicodemus to speak for us.
But that is the difference between the Lord and I – between Jesus of Nazareth and fellow African Christians. There is no confusion in the heart of Jesus the Christ as to who ‘God’ is. There is no confusion as to who exactly bears the hallmark of possibilities for His life. There is no doubt as to whom He rests His whole life and destiny on. That is what Jesus knew but I didn’t know. Joseph may have been a prominent member of the council, but he is not God. Nicodemus would have been the secretary in charge of the Sanhedrin but he is not God. Only, El-Elyon, El-Shaddai, El-Roi, the Almighty breasted One. Only Him is God. No one else.
Whatever fate Jesus will suffer in the hands of the Sanhedrin will not be because Joseph was not influential enough, or Nicodemus didn’t want to help. Whatever that will befall the Lord, He knew that the hands of the Almighty were involved in it. And that is what many Christians, including I, do no know.
We have built a culture around putting our hearts, our trusts and our eyes on men, influential men. We call it being wise, we call it being practical, we call it all kinds of wise languages. But we have done one thing: dethroned the Almighty. We have taken His position and ascribed to another, a mere man, who is just a breath away from extinction.
Oh for the Christian who truly believes that “for not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” Psalms 75:6-7 (RSV). This was the secret behind the peacefulness of Jesus in the midst of the challenges He passed through. His eyes were not on Joseph of Arimathea, or Nicodemus, or any other members of the ruling council, but upon the One who is God and there is no other.
And finally to some who are privileged by God, I hope you now see that you must be careful not to play God. Yes you have been given privileges, and you must maximize them, but for the glory of God, and not for the pleasure of friends and relatives. Beware of turning your stones into bread, it is an ancient temptations that runs through all ages.
May the Lord help us all, to stop looking to men and look to Him, the only true God, from whom comes all salvation.