42 It was the day before the Sabbath. That day was called Preparation Day. As evening approached, 43 Joseph went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph was from the town of Arimathea. He was a leading member of the Jewish Council. He was waiting for God’s kingdom. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. So he called for the Roman commander. He asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 The commander said it was true. So Pilate gave the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought some linen cloth. He took down the body and wrapped it in the linen. He put it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body had been placed.
As I read this passage I am so intrigued by the character of Joseph of Arimathea, trying to understand his thought process throughout the trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus.
As a part of the Jewish Council, he was responsible for overseeing the trial of Jesus when He was brought before them by a large crowd (Mark 14:55). However, Joseph was also a man who was waiting for God’s Kingdom, for the Messiah. He was responsible for making sure laws were upheld and justice was served, while living with a deep inner hope that God’s kingdom would be coming soon. From John’s perspective, we can read that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but kept this to himself for fear of the other Jewish leaders (John 19:38). We don’t really know anything about Joseph until after Jesus is crucified. Joseph risks his position & credibility by asking for the body of Jesus, a man who was seen as a despised criminal, to honour Him by giving Him a proper burial.
While I will never be able to fully know the motives behind Joseph’s actions, I can see similarities between him and myself. Like Joseph, there have been times when I could have stood up for Jesus or for what I know to be right, but bowed to pressure or feared those around me, and so have kept quiet. Yet just because I am weak, does not mean that Jesus’ strength is diminished. In fact, His grace is sufficient for me and my weakness only emphasises His strength. With help from Jesus, I can learn to live free from fear of others, knowing that choosing the strength and grace of Jesus is sufficient for me. I can repent of the times when I have got it wrong, and choose to be strengthened by Him as I move onwards.
Jesus thank you that you are my strength, my grace, my Saviour and Lord. Forgive me for the times when I have chosen the easy way out and surrendered to my own weakness. Thank you that in you there is perfect grace & empowering strength, and that you and your ways are so much bigger than I can comprehend. Help me to honour you all the time. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko