Reading. Luke 23:50–54
50-51 There was a man named Joseph from Arimathea, a town in Judea. He was a good and honourable man, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Although he was a member of the Council, he had not agreed with their decision and action. 52 He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took the body down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock and which had never been used. 54 It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
There are many legends about Joseph of Arimathea, but far more important is what the Bible wants us to know. Whatever he may have done later in life, all four Gospels tell us how Joseph buried Jesus in his own tomb; and he is one of very few people whom all four mention by name—a suitable honour.
John tells us that Nicodemus helped Joseph with the body of Jesus. Both were secret followers of Jesus. Perhaps in their fear they encouraged each other in their faith.
But the hour that changed everything for Joseph was when Jesus was put to death. Perhaps the cock crowed for Joseph as well as for Peter that night, but at the most dangerous moment, he declared himself. Joseph had been afraid; now he knew that the Way of Jesus was not a private, secret thing. Jesus demonstrated God’s love in his life and in his death; it was time for Joseph to do the same. He left his Sanhedrin colleagues to do their worst, and declared his love for Jesus. The secret follower moved into the spotlight in the most public act of support for Jesus of that entire weekend.
Our Easter journey is nearly at an end. What needs to change in your life and in your relationships? How can you express God’s love in your relationship with Jesus, with your family, with your work, with the creation?
Lord, thank you for the faithfulness of Joseph of Arimathea. You helped him overcome his fear and stand tall and strong. Though I may feel small and weak and vulnerable, give me boldness to demonstrate your love in all my relationships today.
It was my privilege this year to write the Easter Saturday and Sunday contributions to the Lenten Prayer Diary our church produces each year. It is an amazing collaborative effort with more than 40 members of our congregation contributing around a given theme. This year the theme was John van der Laar’s book, The hour that changes everything.
- Lent Diary 2012: Easter Saturday and Handel’s Messiah (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)
- Easter Saturday: overlooked but, oh, so important (scienceandstory.wordpress.com)