The Son of Man is Glorified
When you die, where do you want to be buried? In Brunswick, New Jersey, in the 1790s, Mary Ellis fell in love with a sea captain. As he was leaving on a voyage, he left his favorite horse with her, and promised to return to her as soon as he could.
Every day, Mary awaited his return at the exact same spot. Years passed and in 1813, Mary purchased a plot of land by the Raritan River to continue her perpetual watch. Finally, in 1828 she died. She had never been reunited with her sea captain. She was buried on that plot of land along with some of her relatives.
Mary’s family plot sat undisturbed in a beautiful woodland setting for decades, with her grave surrounded by beautiful wrought iron fencing. But communities grow and develop, and the woods and farmland that once housed her family were ripped up and paved over, changing ownership many times. Today, nearly 200 years later, in a setting she could never have imagined, Mary’s grave sits seven feet above the surrounding parking lot of the Loews Theater complex.
Death is a subject many people try to ignore. They don’t want to face their own mortality. As followers of Jesus, you and I may have some fears about the process of dying. But we don’t fear death because we know, ultimately, resurrection will follow.
In John 12, some Greek speaking Jews came to Jerusalem for the Passover, and they asked to see Jesus. When Andrew and Philip introduced these visitors to Jesus here are His words to them. “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” And then He explained how this would happen by giving them the analogy of a kernel of wheat surrendering its life so that much more fruit can be produced. He was about to demonstrate this truth personally.
And that’s what I want us to think about as we look into the Scriptures today. The title of my teaching is “The Son of Man is Glorified.” And our text is Luke 23:50 to 24:12.
By the ACTIONS of the characters in this text, we see clearly how “The Son of Man is Glorified.”
The First ACTION is,
The Deeds of a Respectable Councilor
In the verses just prior to our text, Jesus has just breathed His last and commended His spirit into the hands of His Father. The other Gospel records tell us how the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’ side to make sure He was truly dead. And Mark adds that Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly. Finally, there were many witnesses present to verify that Jesus was dead, including a group of women who had followed Him faithfully throughout His ministry.
Immediately following these events we’re introduced to a man named Joseph. In order to distinguish this Joseph from many others with the same name, the text says, “Joseph, he of Arimathea.” This wording indicates that Joseph was well-known. We know he was a member of the Sanhedrin, and he is described by the Gospel writers as: honorable, rich, good, just, waiting for the kingdom of God, and a disciple of Jesus.
I learned in my study that no one really knows for sure the exact location of Arimathea. But the sources I checked, said the closest possibility would’ve been about six miles north of Jerusalem! Rabbinic tradition tells us that many prominent Jews wanted to be buried near Jerusalem. Why? Because they believed that the resurrection would take place there first.
Remember, the descriptions of Joseph included that he was Jesus’ disciple, and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. As a member of the Sanhedrin, he would’ve been well versed in the Hebrew scriptures. Is it possible that he understood the Messianic prophecies to the extent that he specifically had this tomb prepared for Jesus? Did Isaiah’s prophecy that Jesus would be buried among the rich motivate this action? We don’t know, but it is surely possible.
Think about the risk Joseph was taking by showing this respect for Jesus’ body. He had earlier risked his position and reputation by refusing to sanction the actions of the Sanhedrin in condemning Jesus. I conclude from Mark 14:64 that Nicodemus and Joseph weren’t present at Jesus’ sham trial. Because there, it says that the whole council condemned Jesus.
Now, Jesus is dead, and His mission seems to have come to an inglorious end. His followers have scattered. The kingdom they anticipated seems to have vanished. By publicly identifying with Jesus at this point, Joseph seemingly has everything to lose and nothing to gain. Yet his belief in Jesus compels him to deeds of respect and honor.
It appears that Joseph asked for the body of Jesus as a personal favor from Pilate. Mark’s Gospel implies there was some risk involved. He points out that Joseph had to summon his courage to make the request. His position as a member of the Sanhedrin surely helped him. We know the local Roman government and the Jewish leaders worked together to maintain the civil and religious status quo during this time period.
We learn from the other Gospels that Nicodemus assisted Joseph in retrieving Jesus’ body from the cross and preparing it for burial. Often, the bodies of crucifixion victims were left on the cross for days, even weeks. What remained after that time was disposed of in the Valley of Hinnom, Jerusalem’s garbage dump. This treatment reinforced the idea that criminals were worthless, just so much trash. Joseph and Nicodemus weren’t going to let that happen to Jesus.
As I studied this text, a detail I’d never noticed before occurred to me. It’s not stated in the text, but by handling the dead body of Jesus, both of these men would have become ceremonially unclean. That would’ve been prevented from participating in the Passover. That was a big deal to an observant Jew. Although they didn’t realize it, they were literally caring for the body of the final Passover Lamb.
The record of these events shows us that those involved didn’t anticipate the resurrection of Jesus. And so, Joseph and Nicodemus lay Jesus in this tomb that had never been used before. This detail is important because of a prophecy about Jesus found Psalm 16:10, “You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you allow your Holy One to [undergo] corruption.”
If the tomb had been used before it would’ve been corrupted. This prophecy also means that Jesus’ body was miraculously preserved from decay, which begins immediately after death. So, Jesus earthly life began when He was conceived in an empty womb, the womb of a virgin. His earthly life ended when He was buried in new tomb that had never held a dead body before.
Joseph made sure the body of Jesus was handled with the dignity and respect given to someone of His position. He and Nicodemus had to work quickly, because from the time Jesus died until sunset was only about three hours. Yet somehow, he and Nicodemus managed to secure a hundred pounds of spices for Jesus’ burial.
Had been purchased beforehand in anticipation of the event? Possibly. And think of the cost! Mary’s earlier anointing of Jesus was with a pound of spikenard, worth a year’s wages. Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Jesus’ body for burial with a hundred times as much!! Surely, the deeds of this respectable councilor were intended to honor and glorify Jesus, the Son of Man.
So, Jesus’ body was hurriedly wrapped in a linen shroud infused with the spices, and a napkin was placed over His face. Then, a large stone was rolled across the opening of the tomb. And all was to be left in that condition until the Sabbath was ended.
The question for you and me is, to what lengths are we willing to go to glorify Jesus? Are you and I willing to stand against the crowd when injustice is being perpetrated? Are we willing to risk our reputation to show our love for Jesus? Are you and I willing to expend whatever financial resources are needed to help others learn to glorify Him?
The deeds of this respectable councilor, Joseph of Arimathea, show us one way in which “the Son of Man is Glorified.”
The Next ACTION is,
The Words of the Radiant Messengers
Now the Sabbath is past, and the faintest rays of light begin to tint the eastern sky. The women who had followed Jesus were eager to finish the burial process properly. According to the closing verses of the previous chapter, they had noted the location of the tomb and how Jesus body was laid. But because of the distance and the gathering gloom, they wouldn’t have clearly seen the preparations of Joseph and Nicodemus.
So, here they came, while it was still dark, bringing the spices they assumed they needed to finish the task of a proper burial for Jesus. We can hardly imagine their shock and surprise to see the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb. And when they entered into the tomb, the body of Jesus – was gone!
These events left them completely bewildered. I can imagine them looking at each other, dumbfounded and speechless. And in their confused mental and emotional state two men burst onto the scene in dazzling garments. The word literally means “gleam-flinging” like lightning! As usual, humanity in the presence of deity becomes fearful and properly bows in worship.
As if this display of Shekinah glory weren’t enough, the two angelic messengers spoke. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He isn’t here; He is risen. Remember how he told you about this when He was in Galilee? He told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
In Luke nine, Peter made his confession that Jesus was the Christ of God. Immediately after that “[Jesus] strictly warned and commanded [the disciples] to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” He repeated this fact in other places.
The mission of these radiant messengers was to glorify the Son of Man, to exalt Him, to promote Him. And how did they do that? By pointing the women back to what He had said.
Now, look at verse eight. It’s the shortest verse of our text. It says of the women, “They remembered His words.” They remembered His words. How much trouble could you and I save ourselves from if we would just remember the words of Jesus?
Most of us have never had a visit from radiant messengers like these. Why? Because today we have the written Word and the Holy Spirit, and part of His ministry, according to John 14:26 is “he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance, all things that I said to you.”
So, are you a radiant messenger for Jesus? No, not an angel, but one whose joyful countenance glorifies the Son of Man? Does your life call people to remember the words of Jesus? Part of our calling as Christ-followers is to see that the son of Man is glorified.
The Final ACTION is,
The Testimony of Reliable Witnesses
Isn’t it remarkable that God chose to reveal the world-changing and lifechanging message of the resurrection to His women followers instead of the eleven? We know that women of Jesus’ time, whether Greek, Roman, or Jew, were often treated as property, as inferior to men. Their testimony in court was not worth the same value as a man’s. Social mores of the time would’ve separated the sexes, much as Islam and parts of orthodox Judaism still do today.
Yet these women, immediately on remembering the words of Jesus, left the tomb and returned to the eleven disciples and the others who were gathered with them. I can only imagine the confused babble of voices as they all tried to talk at once. Out of breath from hurrying from the empty tomb, the story must’ve come out in bits and pieces. “The tomb is empty. We saw angels! They said Jesus is alive. Can you believe it?”
Imagine too, their dismay when the assembled group didn’t believe them! Instead, they evaluated this report, literally, “as the speech of the hysterical or delirious.” If you’ve ever heard someone who is delirious, the things they say make absolutely no sense. I can imagine the assembled group made comments like, “crazy, unbelievable, impossible.”
But we know their witness was reliable and accurate. They remembered what Jesus said and their actions proved they believed it! Their heartache, disillusionment, and despair all vanished with the realization that Jesus was alive; He had kept His word. Some, like Thomas persisted in unbelief, but these women knew that the Son of Man had been glorified.
Now, the question comes to you. How have you responded to Jesus? Have you believed the words He has spoken? They are recorded for you in the Holy Scriptures. Are you, like these women, a reliable witness of His truth and power?
Jesus, the Son of Man was glorified through His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of His Father. By His glorification the Son of Man opened the way for all human beings to become a part of His spiritual family, to be His adopted sons and daughters. And His followers became known, according to Acts 17:6, “as those who have turned the world upside down.”
The actions of Joseph, the angelic messengers, and the women, enable us to see how the Son of Man is glorified in His first coming. Our actions as Christ-followers will help to determine how the Son of Man is glorified when He comes again in power and great glory. May we be as faithful in our witness as they were in theirs.