Breaking Rank

Breaking Rank is defined as to march or charge out of the designated order in a military unit. (idiomatic) To publicly disagree with one’s own group or organization. In all of society, whether formal or informal, social structures exists. In the military or on the play ground, social structures exists where we must all navigate. Typically, as a people, we tend to go in the direction of the crowd. What are the conditions that cause one to be seen as one who is Breaking Rank? I submit that it is when one is in a position where he must choose one path or another.

One of the social structures in Jewish culture during the life of Jesus was the the Council or the Sanhedrin. “The Sanhedrin, is the Great Council at Jerusalem, consisting of 71 members, namely, prominent members of the families of the high priest, elders and scribes. The Jews trace the origin of this to Numbers 11:16. The more important causes came up before this tribunal. The Roman rulers of Judea permitted the Sanhedrin to try such cases, and even to pronounce sentence of death, with the condition that such a sentence should be valid only if confirmed by the Roman Procurator. In John 11:47, it is used of a meeting of the Sanhedrin; in Act 4:15, of the place of meeting.”(Vines from BLB)

The Sanhedrin or the Council was the ruling body of the Jews. If one was a part of that group, it would be seen as social suicide by Breaking Rank. This

Mark 15

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God,went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Joseph of Arimathea is one was who finally seen as Breaking Rank. For some time, we know that Joseph and Nicodemus were intrigued with Jesus and eventually followed Him secretly. We see that definitively in John 19. Joseph, as we all will, had to face that moment where following Jesus has to be decided in the open before everyone.  Luke 23 tells us more about that Moment of Faith where Joseph of Arimathea is seen as Breaking Rank with the Sanhedrin. Let’s see what Luke tells us.

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Mark tells us that Joseph went boldly to Pilate asking for Jesus’ body. In that, we see Joseph definitively place Christ as Lord of his life. Joseph put his position, his power and his money in honor of Jesus. Luke tells us that Joseph had already been seen as Breaking Rank agains the Council. He did not consent with their decision and action to falsely blame and crucify Jesus. Going against the Sanhedrin and Pilate could have been a death sentence socially and politically, but his allegiance to Christ was more important to Joseph, so Breaking Rank was simply a function of following Jesus at that moment. He used his position as a member of the Sanhedrin to gain access to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ Not only did Joseph position, he used his money to secure the burial place for Jesus.

Where did this boldness come from? 2 Corinthians 3:12  tells us “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” I am sure that God enabled Joseph to be bold in his support of Jesus his Lord. Do you have hope in Jesus that will allow you to be seen as Breaking Rank? What are the social and political structures that constrain you? When will your moment surface that causes you to be seen as Breaking Rank? Has that moment come and gone? Do you feel you have missed the opportunity to side with Jesus? Never fear, Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” If you are reading this, God is offering you an opportunity to be seen as Breaking Rank with people that side against Christ. Choose wisely.





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