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)
This is a very rich chapter in Luke. I see the undeserved accusations by the crowd; the farce of a trial back and forth between Pilate and Herod; the exchange of condemned—the guilty to go free, the Guiltless One to face execution; then crucifixion and death of Jesus. It can be stirring if not heartbreaking to really try to imagine what is occurring. The cries of the Crowd are everywhere; where are the cries of the righteous? Then I see Joseph of Arimathea….
Here is a question for my soul, the guy in the mirror: “How often do I recognize and point out faults in others? Things they didn’t do well; did not succeed in; shortfalls in biblical or Christian behavior?” Facts are I do it quite often—more about me in a minute…Here is Joseph, a leader in the Sanhedrin, apparently vocal enough to merit a comment about his opposition about what the Council connived concerning Jesus…but maybe not so vocal as to compromise his position (get thrown off the Council). What happened to that “all in for Christ” behavior? Usually I admire and applaud folks who “suffer for His Name’s sake” (re: that lady in Kentucky who refused to sign marriage certificates) and I would bet most folks would cheer—from afar though. I certainly give it more than a second thought of laying it all down like that. Here’s the neat thing: God knows. He is Omniscient, nothing catches Him by surprise. He doesn’t “roll with the punch” because He has already seen, planned, orchestrated all things for the Purpose of His Will. And so it is with Joseph: Scripture calls him a “good man”, a “righteous man”, and is “looking for the Kingdom of God.” Joseph didn’t fail. How often do I think I failed? Is there a branch of the road that God is watching and going “turn right, turn right…..awwhhh, he turned left. Ok (sigh), let’s get it straightened out for tomorrow…” No! Every step I take in each day is after the Purpose of God in conforming me to the Image of His Son (Rom 8:29a). He did it for Joseph; He does it for us. That is why each day can be faced with Joy and Expectation for His mercies are absolutely new! (Lam 3:22)—I can still be considered a “good” man, a “righteous” man, looking for the Kingdom of God–even when it looks like I failed, God knows and I know through the Scriptures that it is just one more thing to being conformed to the Image (progressive sanctification)…and though I may have to pay for falling off the rails, He will never forsake me.
Father: Please deliver me from a critical, negative spirit and make me to be more encouraging to others. Hebrews 3 says that lies can be deceitful and implies that discouragement assists to fall away into sin. I realize that I need to struggle with observations that are negative. You remind me a good tool is to identify 9 good things to say before 1 bad one. Like the disciples said: “Increase my Faith!!”