Holy Week #4: Joseph of Arimathea- “A good and just man”

Joseph is described as “a good man and a just “. (Luke 23:50) What does that mean?

The Greek word for “good” is “agathos” and it means, “upright, distinguished, excellent.” Joseph had good intentions and a reputation for doing good works that would benefit others. He wasn’t a good man as far as following God’s laws perfectly, for Jesus affirmed that no man is good except God.

The word “just” (dikaios) means “to be expected to behave according to existing rules; whether society’s and/or God’s.” Joseph was a very disciplined Pharisee and strictly adhered to their rules, regulations and external ordinances. He was not motivated by an inner holiness however, but rather his discipline brought him respect of others. Putting these words, “good and just” together, says that Joseph knew how to behave properly to benefit himself and others. He had a good reputation and was therefore well-respected and in good standing with society at large, including both the Jews and the Romans. Joseph had a good name in Jewish and Roman society, and that presented a problem for him.

Holy Week #3. Who was Joseph of Arimathea?

Where is Arimathaea?
Joseph was born at Arimathaea — which is very likely, Ramathaim-Zophim, the birthplace of the Prophet Samuel, (1 Samuel 1:1) located some 22 miles (35km) northwest of Jerusalem. The Greek translation of the name of the city is Arimathaim. Some scholars prefer to identify it with the town of Ramalleh, a town about five miles north of Jerusalem.

How rich was Joseph and where did he get his riches?
Scripture describes Joseph of Arimathaea as “a rich man”. “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus”. (Matt 27:57) Some scholars believe that he was exceedingly rich, perhaps the richest man in Israel at the time.

Scripture is silent on how he obtained his riches, but some early, yet unsubstantiated Christian writers say that Joseph was an international merchant involved in the tin trade with the Roman government. Tin is needed to make bronze. This tin came from the British Isles where there existed remote Jewish settlements involved in the mining of tin and lead. If Joseph was in charge of Rome’s mining interests in Britain, he would have been influential and familiar with the Roman authorities. If this were true, it would also explain how Joseph was able to so easily gain an audience with Pilate. He was a prominent man in both the Roman and Jewish worlds. He was also wealthy enough to have his own tomb cut cut of rock.

Holy Week #2: Was Jesus crucified at the same time as the Passover lamb was sacrificed?

Jesus was nailed to and hung on the cross from approximately 9:00am – 3:00pm. There is a debate whether the Passover lamb was also sacrificed at the exact time Jesus died, or if the lamb was offered the day before, on Thursday, the night of the last supper and the eating of the Passover. So, it seems logical that the Passover lamb would have been sacrificed on Maunday Thursday.

Though some still insist that the Passover lamb was sacrificed on Friday, is it not necessary to illustrate that Christ was the Passover Lamb.

Jesus Christ was the Passover Lamb of God and it is illustrated in the daily sacrifice known as a “continual burnt offering” that took place twice a day: at 9:00am, (known as the Tamid), and at 3:00pm (also known as “the Evening Sacrifice”). During these times an unblemished male lamb was sacrificed and bread and wine was offered. (This is dictated in Numbers 28:1-8 and in Exodus 29:38-42)

Although the Torah does not say exactly the times of the morning and evening sacrifices took place, according to ancient Jewish sources, (Josephus, Antiquities 14.4.3), the morning offering of the Tamid took place at 9 am, while the evening offering took place at 3 p.m.

What is fascinating about these daily sacrifices, is that there were also daily prayers being offered along with the sacrifice. This is referenced in Acts 3:1; and 2:15, “Now Peter and John went up to the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” The ninth hour was nine hours after the sun rose, (approximately 6:00am) making the ninth hour to be about 3:00pm. Jewish tradition tells us exactly what these prayers said. They were called the “Eighteen Benedictions”.

If these ancient Jewish traditions are correct, then the Jews in the Temple would have been daily praying these benedictions during the Tamid and the Evening Sacrifice, and would have also been praying them on Friday at the same time Jesus was nailed to the cross (9:00am) and when he died around 3:00pm. Four of these daily benedictions were finally fulfilled when Jesus Christ was being crucified…

1. The 6th Benediction: According to Jewish tradition, at 9am and 3pm, the Jews in the Temple would have been praying for the forgiveness of sins: “Forgive us, O our Father, for we have sinned; pardon us, O our King, for we have transgressed; for you pardon and forgive. Blessed are you, O Lord, who is merciful and always ready to forgive.”

2. The 7th Benediction: the Jews in the Temple would have been praying for redemption: “Look upon our affliction and plead our cause, and redeem us speedily for your name’s sake, for you are a mighty redeemer. Blessed are you, O Lord, the redeemer of Israel.”

3. The 15th Benediction: According to Jewish tradition, at 9a.m. and 3p.m., the Jews in the Temple would have praying for the coming of the Messiah: “Speedily cause the offspring of your servant David to flourish, and let him be exalted by your saving power, for we wait all day long for your salvation. Blessed are you, O Lord, who causes salvation to flourish.”

4. The 2nd Benediction: According to Jewish tradition, at 9a.m. and 3p.m., the Jews in the Temple would have been praying for the resurrection of the dead: “You, O Lord, are mighty forever, you revive the dead, you have the power to save. You sustain the living with loving kindness, you revive the dead with great mercy, you support the falling, heal the sick, set free the bound and keep faith with those who sleep in the dust… Who resembles you, a king who puts to death and restores to life, and causes salvation to flourish? And you are certain to revive the dead. Blessed are you, O Lord, who revives the dead.”

The next three hours, after Jesus died, from 3:00pm to sundown, (which occurs at approx 5:45pm in Jerusalem during this time of the year), Joseph of Arimathaea would have had to request the body of Jesus from Pilate, Jesus’ body would have to be taken down from the cross, and transported to his tomb. Then, the linen cloths and 100# of spices have to be purchased, the body quickly cleansed, hastily prepared with the spices, and placed in the tomb. All this has to be done before sundown. This character sketch documents the precise and miraculous details of how God orchestrated the events and transformed Joseph of Arimathaea’s heart so that it all gets done and Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled.

Holy Week #1: Synchronizing the Gospels: What time did Jesus die on the cross?

What time was Jesus put on the cross? What time did Jesus die?
There seems to be some contradiction in the Gospels about the time of day Jesus was tried and crucified. John says Jesus was tried about the sixth hour and Mark says Christ was crucified at the third hour and died the ninth hour. This is easily explained to produce harmony in the Gospels…

John 19:14-16 states, “ And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. … Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.” John is using the Roman method of telling time which began at midnight. (much like ours is currently) When John wrote his Gospel, the Temple had been destroyed in 70AD and the practicing of the Jewish ceremonial laws was non-existent. Therefore Jesus was sentenced to be crucified during the sixth hour after midnight, or just after dawn (6:00am) which was when the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Pilate and demanded he be crucified. During this time, Barabas was released and Jesus condemned to be crucified.

The Gospel of Mark states “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” (Mr 15:25). Mark is using the Jewish method of telling time in which the day began at sunrise, or approx. 6:00am. Therefore Jesus was nailed to the cross in the third hour after sunrise, approximately 9:00am. It took approximately three hours, from 6:00am – 9:00am for Jesus to be condemned, the cross to be brought to Jesus, and be carried to Golgotha where he was nailed to it.

Mark continues to use the Jewish method of telling time when he said, “And when the sixth hour [noon] was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. [3:00pm] … And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost..” (Mark 15:33. 37) The Greek word used for darkness is “skotos” means “very dark”. The Greek word for “land” is “ges” and it and refers to, “ the whole earth, literally”. The entire earth became simultaneously darkened. This was prophesied by Amos, , “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:” (Amos 8:8)