2014-04-19 - Joseph of Arimathaea
Today is Good Friday – the day Jesus died on the Cross. Numerous devotionals could be written about Jesus' death. The words that Jesus said from the Cross could be analyzed. The reactions of those observing the Crucifixion could be discussed. The final minutes of Jesus' life could be reviewed. In this Good Friday devotional, I would like to look at the man who took possession of Jesus' body after it was removed from the Cross.
Joseph was from the town of Arimathaea, which was about 20 miles from Jerusalem. We read in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a member of the Council or Sanhedrin which was the Jewish ruling body under the Roman occupation. Joseph is described in this passage as "a good and upright man." (NIV) In his Gospel, John tells us that "Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he feared the Jews" (John 19:38)
Joseph went to Pilate, Roman governor over Judea, to ask for Jesus' body. Normally, the body of an executed person was left unburied, or was placed in a pauper's grave. Sometimes a family member would ask for the body. But Joseph was not a family member; in fact, he was a member of the Sanhedrin. For Joseph to ask for Jesus' body was a bold and courageous request. By doing so, Joseph openly revealed himself as a follower of Jesus. Joseph was exposing himself to persecution, ridicule, expulsion from the Sanhedrin, and the loss of his social status and wealth. Yet Joseph boldly went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. He then took Jesus' body from the Cross, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and place Jesus in Joseph's own tomb, cut into a rock.
Joseph was a bold man of action. He risked everything to take care of Jesus' body. Joseph was a true follower. Are we bold followers of Jesus today? Do we take actions to take care of the Body of Christ, the Church? Do we share the Good News of Jesus with others? Are we willing to take risks for Jesus?
Richard Moser, Jr