Matthew 27:57-61 – Doing the Necessary But Non-Flashy Work of The Kingdom

Posted: May 2, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:57-61

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

As an accountant who serves as the comptroller for the company that I work for in the secular world, it is sometimes a thankless job, much like that of my entire department which I manage. In the financial/administrative world, people within the companies for which we work only notice our jobs when something breaks or something does not get done. Proper management of accounts receivable is rarely thought of until a customer goes past due. General ledger reconciliations that assure that we know and understand makes up the balances of our balance sheet and income statement accounts are necessary tasks but rarely are noticed by the rest of the company until there is an audit finding about an unreconciled amount in an account or there is a problem with an accrual that has been made. Documentation of journal entries is done so that someone two years from now can come back and and reconstruct the reason and purpose for the journal entry and understand why the journal entry was necessary. That never gets noticed until there is someone trying to understand why a significant journal entry was made when a question is raised during an audit. Accounts Payable is an unnoticed job that is not noticed until a vendor complains about why they have not been paid. As you can see, sometimes being the back office folks at the company you work, your work is sometimes taken for granted as if it just magically gets done. Finance is not always the glamorous thing that being in sales can sometimes be. Sales is flashy. It is about landing the big account that can change the course of the company’s fortunes. Finance is the background stuff that is just supposed to happen.

 

We are like the engine of a dependable car. You jump in it, turn on the ignition, and the car cranks up and you are on your way. You don’t think about. It’s just an expectation that they car will crank and you will be on your way. The only time you notice the whole ignition process is when it does not work. You jump in your car and it does not crank and you’re stranded. Your whole day’s plans can go up in smoke just because the ignition process in your car failed. Finance is like that at companies. There is an expectation that the financial end of the business with just be there, and it will operate smoothly, and so on. So, as accountants, we have to pride ourselves in the fact that when we do our job right, the car cranks and the company moves forward with its work without notice to what’s going on under the hood. The best compliment to us in the financial end of businesses is when there are no complaints. The lack of complaints about the financial end of the business is the best compliment of all. We do the necessary work of the company that is not always pretty and not always glamorous but is absolutely necessary to the survival of the company. If we do not do our job, the company dies. Plain and simple. If there were no accounts payable, the bills would not get paid and credit ratings get ruined. If accounts receivable does not do its job, cash is not collected and eventually the life blood of a company that allows it to do everything else, cash, dries up. Without general ledger accountants to maintain the balance sheet and income statement in the proper manner, the company loses sight of where it is at and decisions can be made based on a false sense of the position of the company. Without comptrollers to manage it all, there would be no cohesiveness to any of the finance functions and those other positions would have to direction and emphasis to their daily tasks. As the old saying goes, “it’s not a glamorous job but somebody’s got a do it.”

 

It is that idea of the necessary tasks that are not glamorous but are oh so important when you think of the contribution of Joseph of Arimethia to the story of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, God calls us to perform tasks that a necessary but not necessarily glamorous. Let’s read today’s passage together, Matthew 27:57-61:

 

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

 

Joseph of Arimethia was secret disciple of Jesus. He was respected leader within the Jewish high council known as the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43). He was risking a great deal by asking to take Jesus’ body. This is a seemingly mundane task when you read quickly through this passage. No big deal. Joseph was a nice guy doing a nice thing. No biggie right? However, to take his body down from the cross was important in oh so many ways. It was risky in that Joseph was possibly risking his reputation and position among Jewish leaders by associating himself with Jesus – the one that his own council voted to have executed by whatever means necessary. Risky move with big consequences. Mundane action with major implications. Another way to look at Joseph’s action is that it was a necessary task in the confirming the veracity of the resurrection. Without God guiding Joseph to risk his reputation to perform a seemingly mundane task, he contributing to the miracle of the resurrection. Without performing this seemingly mundane task when he did, he was able to lay the body of Jesus in a tomb before the Sabbath began (when no work of any kind could be performed by the Jews). If he had not performed this mundane task of placing Jesus’ body in the tomb when he did, the Roman soldiers would have had to take Jesus body down from the cross and throw his body in the trash heap. If this had happened, the Jewish leaders could have disputed the claims of resurrection. However, with Jesus in a sealed tomb, Joseph with this minor act contributes mightily to the historical veracity of the resurrection. The Jewish leaders all knew from Joseph’s act that Jesus was in a sealed tomb. Therefore, they could not dispute the resurrection. The Romans could not dispute the resurrection. Decades later as the gospels were written, these men were still alive and, yet, they could not dispute the resurrection. They wanted to discredit it but they had no way to do so. Joseph in following God’s call to do a mundane thing contributed mightily to the kingdom and to the survival of the faith we know as Christianity. Big impact from an almost unnoticed task. It was not flashy but it was necessary. It was not glamorous but it was oh so necessary to God’s plan for the resurrection.

 

That’s the awesome takeaway here. Sometimes, in life and particularly in church, we want to be the flashy ones. We want to be the preacher on stage. We want to be the worship leader on stage. We want to have the flashy jobs in church. But sometimes we are called by God to do the mundane things, the behind the scenes things. Someone once told me that “to serve the Lord, we sometimes have to clean the toilets.” It means that we are sometimes called by God to do the unnoticed things that if not done can be the difference between the church reaching one lost person or not. It can be the difference between the church knowing where it’s at financially and missing an opportunity to do new ministry because it does not understand its financial position. Worse yet, the church might mistake its health and jump into a ministry opportunity for which it is not financially prepared. This is not the glitzy work of the cross to be the church’s financial/administrative pastor or director but oh it is so necessary to the advancement of the kingdom. Being the janitor at the church and keeping the church squeaky clean can be the difference between someone not coming back to church or not and meeting Christ as their Savior or not. There are so many reasons and ways that Satan operates to turn people away from the cross. Thus, even the littlest things not done with passion and perfection by us Christ followers can be the difference. We all contribute to the advancement of the kingdom when we follow God’s call to do the mundane things. So, Lord, give us the humility to do whatever is necessary to bring about salvations at the foot of the cross. Let us be Joseph of Arimethea to hear the Lord and follow his call to do that which not necessarily flashy but oh so necessary to the kingdom’s advancement. Let us have the humility to do the stuff that needs to be done whether people notice or not. For we do these things for the glory of the God we love and not for the approval of man. That is praise and worship. That is doing what needs doing for the kingdom no matter whether the calling is flashy or not. It is saying God, I will do whatever it takes to give you glory. I will do whatever it takes to advance your kingdom even if means cleaning the toilets! Amen and Amen.

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