Torchbearers for Christ
Monday, April 23, 2018
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TWO GOOD MEN

In the New Testament we learn of two men, and only two, who are described as “good men”. It is interesting to note that these two men had the same name; it was Joseph. Undoubtedly there were multitudes of other “good men” at the time because, when the Lord Jesus came into the world, His mission was to “save His people from their sins” and to make sinners righteous in the sight of God. It needs to be remembered, though, that apart from those who have become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17), the Scripture tells us that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).
 
The first “good man” we consider is Joseph of Arimathea. What do we know about him? We find that he is mentioned in each of the four gospels against the background of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. From Matthew 27:57-60 we learn that he was a rich man and a disciple of Jesus. At a time when all of the other disciples had fled in fear, Joseph went to Pontius Pilate and begged to have the body of Jesus. This was a courageous act and Pilate granted his request. Cruel hands had nailed Jesus to the cross and now loving hands took Him down. We also learn that Joseph, assisted by another disciple, Nicodemus, laid Jesus in a tomb that Joseph had prepared for himself, having hewn it out of the rock. He then rolled a great stone across the entry to the sepulchre.
 
Mark 15:42-46 describes Joseph as “an honourable counsellor who waited for the Kingdom of God”, so we see that he was a man of integrity with faith in God’s promises. Luke 23:50-53 tells us that Joseph was “a good man and a just” and that he had protested against the decision of his peers to sentence Jesus to death. In John 19:38-42 we read that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus and, together with Nicodemus, they wound the body of Jesus in linen clothes with spices and laid Him in a garden tomb.
 
So, putting the picture from the four gospels together, what have we learned about Joseph of Arimathea? He was a man of courage who overcame his fears. He was generous, compassionate, in a right relationship with God, and a man of integrity – altogether a “good man”.
 
The other “good man” is Joseph Barnabas. The apostles saw that this man had a self-denying love for God’s people, so they gave him the surname of Barnabas meaning “son of encouragement: (Acts 4:36,37). From Acts 4:37 we see that Barnabas was a generous giver. He was also a very caring person, introducing Paul to anxious believers (Acts 9:27). Following his conversion, Paul had a problem. He was hated by the Jews and not wanted by the Christians. He could have become discouraged “but Barnabas took him” and brought him to the apostles, assuring them that Paul’s conversion was genuine. This was the beginning of a great partnership, Paul taking the lead and Barnabas giving loyal support.
 
Acts 11:19-26 gives us a delightful portrait of Barnabas, the man and his ministry. He was trustworthy, joyful, an encourager, a wise counsellor, filled with the Holy Spirit, full of faith, fruitful, and a team person. Together with Paul he met severe opposition, but was undeterred. In Acts 15:26, Paul and Barnabas are described as “men that have hazarded their lives for the Lord Jesus”. We know, too, that Barnabas was a giver, prayerful, an overcomer and one who was willing to take second place.
May the Lord give us many more “good” men and women.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.