The Bible tells us that Joseph of Arimathaea was a lawyer and speculation is strong that perhaps he was also a member of the Sanhedrin Court. He was further described as “an honorable counselor…” in Mark 15:43. Joseph was a lawyer and perhaps a clandestine follower of Jesus Christ who chose to parade in secret of darkness in support of Truth.
Was he a Disciple of Christ by night who was living and speaking a double standard in life by daylight hours among pharisees? It appears Joseph of Arimathea had a solid foot hold in the midst of two characteristically different spiritual camps. Especially if he did not choose to dissent, if he had opportunity to be personally involved in the fly by night court session deciding the fate of Jesus where He was treated like a common criminal and sentenced to death.
Likely Joseph of Armamathea was enjoined in conversation with both Jewish Pharisees by day and perhaps praising and worshiping Jesus secretly. If he did choose to meet with Jesus “on the side” or in clandestine fashion under cover of night this would strongly suggest he was more fearful of what Jewish leaders and authorities would do to him, rather than living in faith and reverent fear of the Lord .
Coming to Pilate upon the death of Jesus Christ to beg of His body made a bold statement about his character and his willingness to stand up for Jesus Christ upon His death.
These Bible verses plainly describe Joseph of Arimathea as a surreptitious disciple of Jesus and also mentions another individual who was also a “secret fan” of Jesus. Both men came asking Pilate shortly after the death of Jesus for permission to take claim and away His bruised and battered body.
And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. (John 19:38-40 KJV)
Isn’t it strange it seems these two men did not have either the courage or curiosity to outwardly follow after Jesus when He was alive on this earth? Or could not muster up enough courage to witness of Him and speak out on His behalf when He was alive, however, both choose to come and request His lifeless and battered body upon His death.
Perhaps these two men watched in silent horror as Jesus was falsely accused, horribly mistreated, and sentenced to die on the cross as a common criminal. Maybe they were suddenly flooded and overcome with great remorse and heart realization of their undeniable love for Jesus. Maybe they watched helplessly as Jesus Christ was agonizingly separated from God His Father for the satisfaction of the debt of all sin and willingly succumbed to His physical death to shed His precious blood.
Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary provides a pathway for anyone fueled by faith for fellowship with God forever in the eternal realm. Maybe this narrow pathway was instantaneously highlighted for both men who likely both witnessed His death and now seeing His short life on this earth with greater meaning and significance left to gaze at a lifeless tent of flesh hanging on the cross.
Perhaps, as the crowd of onlookers thinned out, the body of Jesus hanging on the cross became suddenly big and brought an undeniable urge to their heart to seek permission to recover His body. Were their requests for the purpose of a proper burial? Or perhaps their request made to align with keeping the Jewish law of burial before the sun set, or because the timing of a holy feast was at hand?
The Bible recorded this moment in these words:
Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counseller, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:43 KJV)
The request to care for the body of Jesus must have gone beyond the ceremonial keeping the law because the Bible clearly says this about Joseph’s reasoning: “which also waited for the kingdom of God…” Joseph was a disciple who was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus displayed great honorable care of His body. They readied Him for a proper burial in a borrowed tomb. They did not just take possession of His body and “dump” Him in a tomb with an attitude of just meeting and keeping of laws and traditions. The Bible says Nicodemus Came by Night bringing about a hundred pounds of a sweet smelling mixture of spices for lovingly wrapping the body of Jesus. These spices were used to preserve a body and mask the odor of death. This was not a task that any ordinary citizen would have been excited to do or perhaps even volunteer to do unnecessarily. Especially for a “man” who was sentenced to die by the popular crowd and treated as a common criminal.
Could these two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have been overwhelmed with a deep remorse or laden with guilt as words they heard Him speak before His death came together with their first-hand witness of His cruel death hitting them both personally in the depths of their heart? Perhaps the preaching and teaching they had heard Jesus speak rang in their ears and moved to their heart as His physical life faded in front of their eyes and out of regret and remorse they desired to serve Him public fashion in death. Conceivably they were supernaturally led to care for Him like a “King,” rather than as a common criminal because of intrinsic value they placed upon Him. Though they had not yet experienced the presence of His resurrected spiritual body and knew not of the eternal spiritual caliber of His worth yet they were moved to treat Him with great prestige and regard .
How do you view the physical death of Jesus Christ? You have been born on the other side of the cross of Calvary. Today we know and can clearly understand that Jesus Christ is the risen Savior who died and arose again. We have the whole account recorded for us in God’s Word; the death, burial, and resurrection to contemplate upon.
Did the apparent love of God the Father, working through the life and necessary sacrificial death of His Only Son Jesus Christ, allow the eternal healing power of His shed blood to trickle into the cracks and crevices of your naturally hard and darkened heart condition, pressing eternal fellowship with God upon your heart with the inward presence of His supernatural power and giving you the free gift of new spiritual life forevermore?
Or do you choose to exist among popular opinion of many in this dark world? Treating any notion of an all-powerful and loving God as just a “man” who is dead and powerless like all other gods and religions and rendered as powerless fables and meaningless stories in this modern ungodly world?
Or perhaps you see God as a “genie” you can summon in times of personal need and toss to the “back burner” of life when you have everything all under control on your own…. following Him as you have time and a need or desire for Him, rather than choosing to live in an eternal direction outwardly separated and “sold out” and living in reverent fear of His authority and supernatural power at work personally in your life which has been working in this universe since the beginning of time in both heaven and earth
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 KJV)
God sent His Only Son to die upon the cross of Calvary and to spring forth resurrected from the grave on the third day so that mankind can live in sweet fellowship with God forever through faith.
Easter is a day set aside to savor and celebrate a risen Savior who we openly serve from our hearts each day as we sojourn on this earth and enjoy eternal fellowship with forever.