“And when he learned from the centurion [that Jesus was in fact dead], he gave the body to Joseph [by granting him permission to remove it]. So Joseph purchased a [fine] linen cloth [for wrapping the body], and after taking Jesus down [from the cross], he wrapped Him in the linen cloth and placed Him in a tomb which had been cut out of rock. Then he rolled a [large, wheel-shaped] stone against the entrance of the tomb.”Mark 15 vs. 45-46 (AMP)
“Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small: Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” Isaac Watts.
While wanting to start writing on this article this morning, I had to go back and re-sing the hymn by Isaac Watts (When I survey the wondrous cross). For the first time in in my life, I saw Joseph the Arimathean in that song. Yes, the truth was that he was there at the crucifixion of Jesus; he had followed the passion, love and sacrifice of Jesus up to when He breathed His last and said it was finished. I could imagine the Arimathean wording most of the lyrics of that hymn in his mind as his eyes filled with tears, as this man who knew no sin and committed no crime died a shameful death on the cross.
While we may have celebrated the Arimathean for some time now, the truth was that he had not been so faithful and committed in his discipleship. There were so many times when he could have spoken up or done some things, but in fear of the Jews, he refrained himself. He did not see the need to give his all and his life for this Man, no matter how great He was.
Now as he saw him hanging on the cross, and beheld the pains which this powerful man bore on the cross in obedience to His father, the heart of the Arimathean was deeply moved and he saw that there was no longer any other choice before him but to put his hands to the plough. He knew his action would cause him to lose favour with his fellow rich Jews. He knew his action could even cost him his place in the Sanhedrin (the highest ruling council of the Jews). In fact, the decision even cost him his precious grave which he had hewed out of the rock (a very costly venture) and was saving for his own precious and costly burial. But this was a love that demanded all; he had no choice but to pour his all on Jesus.
Sometimes in the practice of our religious lives, we are afraid to talk about the love of Jesus because we do not want men to take it for granted and so live a life of sin while counting on His love. But that is the challenge with mere head knowledge. There is no one who truly encounters the love of Jesus, that does not face the unutterable consequences of that love- YOUR ALL.
The love of Jesus asks for nothing less than your all. The Son of God left His gracious throne to come and die for you. His chastisement was for our peace; His wounds were for our healing; His death reconciled us to His Father. There was nothing He really ‘gained’ from all that happened to Him on Earth, except that you and I (mere men) can now call on His Name and receive answers from the Father. All that transpired at the cross was love pure and simple. And you know the most shocking part of it, it all happened while we were yet sinners. We were so unworthy of His love, but He chose to love us even still. He has loved us with an everlasting love. His love for us is not based on how good we are.
“But God has shown us how much he loves us — it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” Romans 5 vs. 8 GNB
If we really face such love, if we really consider the greatness of it, then there really is nothing we can offer that will be enough. It is not enough to offer your money; it is not enough to offer your strength or your ability or your time. Such a love has only one answer -YOUR ALL- poured out on Him, like the woman with the alabaster box who poured it all on Jesus.
I strongly believe that the Arimathean never recovered from his decision to yield his services, as well as his grave, to Jesus. First of all, he was never buried in his tomb again. For until today, the tomb remains empty. That which housed the Lord of Glory in His weakest point could bear no other lesser man, not even the Arimathean. He never turned his back again to follow the ruling council because they definitely would have mocked him, insulted him and suspended him from the council. In fact history had it that he was part of the 120 that received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, and went on to preach the Gospel of Jesus the Christ openly.
Yes, the analysis of the past few days may have taught us a lot. We may have seen ourselves as rich men and kingdom financiers like the Arimathean. However, remember that this love does not demand your money and your finances; it demands your ALL. It insists that you be willing to let go of all for the sake of Christ. All, yes all. Like oil upon His feet, like wine for Him to drink, like water from your heart, that love demands that you pour your all on Him.
I ask you again, as I asked myself today, are you willing to give Him your all? Then do it now. Surrender and say to him, like Robert Hyslop (the Bassa Heart), “Anything, Lord.” This love demands your all, can you let Him have it? I mean, it is the only reasonable thing to do. Amen.