Joseph of Arimathea
16 June 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-61 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. 61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (Matthew 27:57–61 NLT)
Jesus owned nothing but the clothes he was arrested in and those had been won in a dice game by a Roman soldier. Joseph, a rich man from the Judean village of Arimathea, a few miles from Jerusalem, had become a secret follower of Jesus and had not agreed with the Jewish leaders in their plot to have Jesus killed. It was normal in Jewish culture to bury the dead before sunset and on this occasion, sunset was the beginning of the Sabbath. Something needed to be done!
The disciples were scattered, the women were stunned, the “clock was ticking!” So Joseph risked the wrath of Pilate by coming forward to claim Jesus’ body for burial, and risked the wrath of the Jewish leaders for identifying himself with the one they had put to death. Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a linen sheet and buried it in his own new tomb nearby and he and his helpers rolled a huge, heavy stone across the door of the tomb. His act was compassionate and brave and clearly the Holy Spirit considered it worth writing Joseph into the redemption story as a memorial to his act of courage and generosity.
As I read this today, I thought of the times in our lives when something tragic or terrible happens and nobody seems to know what to do. The people you’d expect to do something either aren’t there or don’t take action. Then someone, an unexpected someone, seemingly from the shadows, steps up and takes initiative and does the thing that needs to be done. And it’s good and helpful! And I thought about my tendency to hold back, to wait and see, to think “Someone needs to do something here!” Joseph simply did the thing that needed to be done! (And he got his tomb back in good condition three days later anyhow!)
Father, Thanks for the story of Joseph of Arimathea! Help me to be the one who steps up and courageously, compassionately, generously does what needs to be done! Amen!