Rich Man, Poor Man
Matt. 27:57 ¶ When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.
Jesus had died on the cross and the world stood by as witness. After his death a rich man by the name of Joseph steped up to provide a place for Jesus’ body. Jesus had no will. Jesus had made no funeral arrangements. No one had expected him to die in Jerusalem. His family was from Nazareth where there may have been a place where family members were buried but now, he had died so far away.
Instead of just treating his body as an ordinary criminal, or as a poor man, Joseph stepped in and provided a place for Jesus. The tomb that he provided may have been his own personal tomb and would probably have come at great expense. He was willing to give up all of that for Jesus, for he had become one of Jesus’ disciples, which is interesting considering what Jesus had said about how hard it would be for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
So often Jesus spent time talking about the poor and ministry to the poor, but it is obvious that he also ministered to those with wealth. This man, Joseph, is a case in point, as is Zacchaeus.
Joseph was the rich man. Jesus was the poor man. The rich man helped the poor man, who had just changed the world. Together they made a difference.
We have gone through a time in Christianity where we have been encouraged to think about ministry by focusing on a particular demographic. Build the church of one homogeneous group and it will work well, we are told. The only problem with that is that it doesn’t look like what happens in the kingdom. In the kingdom we find incredible diversity and in that diversity we find energy and synergy that changes the world.
There are some in ministry who do not want to reach out to the rich people of this world. Today’s suburbs may be one of the most desolate places in the world. There are people everywhere that need to know Christ and none should be excluded. There are others who are uncomfortable reaching out to the poor and so shy away from them and their needs.
We need to ask ourselves how we will reach out to the rich man like Joseph. Obviously Jesus had ministered to him and touched his life. He was a transformed man who did not care about what others thought of him that he would willingly give his tomb for the body of Jesus. Yet, he had been wiling to associate with a poor man — Jesus. Together their lives became intertwined and remain so throughout history. At the same time we must ask ourselves how we will minister to the poor -- and how do we bring them together? There is a place for all in the kingdom.
What happens when the rich man meets the poor man? The kingdom of God breaks in and we catch a glimpse of what lies ahead. It is that moment of the “already” and “not yet” of the kingdom, a visible reminder of the tension in which we currently live.
Today, may we join hands with all those who are being drawn to the kingdom, both the rich and the poor, and may the uniting of these begin to weave a rich and beautiful tapestry which will touch the heart of our world, pointing them toward Christ, the one who arose from Joseph’s tomb.
Lord, may I be faithful today and every day in ministering to those you place in my path. Amen.