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The Secret Disciples

by Rev. Kirby Williams

Lessons from two previously secret disciples who come out of hiding to provide a kingly burial for Jesus.

Text: John 19:38-42
Date: 07/26/2020, the Combined service.
Series: "John: Encountering Love" Part 187

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All four Gospels tell the story of Joseph of Arimathea and his royal treatment of Jesus' body after His Crucifixion. John alone tells us of Nicodemus' participation and the kingly nature of the burial the two men hastily arrange. We will discuss the reason for these details and what they tell us about the exaltation of Jesus after His death. But John particularly brings our attention to the fact that both men prior to this crisis were afraid to reveal their belief in Jesus. That will spark our discussion of disciples, both in John's day and in ours, who are gripped with the same fear. Ultimately we will recognize this as a serious problem within the church and discuss both the warnings and solutions for those who are living as "secret disciples".

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I. Introduction, Matt. 5:10,14-16.
II. Exposition of the text, John 19:38-42.
A. Context
1. A grizzly scene.
2. A retraction.
B. A burial fit for a King.
1. Introducing the secret disciples, vs. 38-39.
a. Introducing Joseph of Arimathea, vs. 38a.
i. Establishing the timeline.
ii. Locating Arimathea, Luke 23:50.
iii. Harmonizing the Gospels, Matt. 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50-51.
iv. The expanded group of disciples.
• Defining a "disciple".
• Other disciples beside the twelve, John 6:66, 8:31, 9:28.
v. The secret disciple, John 12:42-43.
b. The request to Pilate, vs. 38b.
i. A bold move in the Roman context.
• The normal burial ground-- Gehenna.
• Especially for insurrectionists, John 19:31.
ii. A bold move in the Jewish context.
iii. The request answered.
iv. Removing the body.
c. Reintroducing Nicodemus, vs. 39.
i. Another secret disciple, John 3:1-2, 7:50, 12:43.
ii. The kingly burial.
• Spices for burial, Matt. 2:11.
• A kingly amount.
2. Preparation for burial, vs. 40, Mark 15:46.
3. The garden tomb, vs. 41.
a. A rich man's tomb, Matt. 27:60.
b. An uncorrupted tomb, Psa. 16:10.
c. Fulfilling Scripture, Isa. 53:9.
4. The burial, vs. 42.
a. Two emphasized details.
i. The day of Preparation, Matt. 12:40.
ii. The closeness of the tomb.
iii. Important details, Matt. 27:60.
b. A statement of exaltation.
III. Application
A. The significance of the Kingly burial.
B. The significance of the secret disciples.
1. The irony of the secret disciples.
2. Remembering the nature of Jesus' physical death.
3. Marks of a secret disciple.
a. Not the persecuted church.
b. Afraid to reveal their identity.
c. Seeking the glory of this world.
d. A "nominal" or "carnal" Christian.
4. Warnings from Scripture, Matt. 10:33, 7:22-23.
5. The good news.
IV. Conclusion

The Preaching Ministry of Kirby Williams

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