On Friday at around 3:00 p.m., as hard as it was to believe, Jesus had died and his followers were mourning his passing. Along with the grieving came the necessary burden of making burial arrangements. And that’s where we pick up this Easter story with a man referred to as Joseph of Arimathea.
We only know a little bit about him, but what we do know is that he was a Pharisee—a member of an influential Jewish sect— secretly following Jesus (John 19:38), that he was wealthy (Matthew 27:57), and that he was a “good and righteous man” who disagreed with the plan to kill Jesus (Luke 23:50–51).
Joseph had been following Jesus from a distance. But on the day of Jesus’s death, something changed.
John tells us, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.”
Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. He had been privately following Jesus, but now Jesus was gone. Despite this, Joseph of Arimathea chose this moment to move toward Jesus—publicly. He risked it all in front of his peers, the Roman guards, and religious leaders; Joseph approached Pilate (the guy who had just sentenced Jesus to crucifixion) and asked if he could bury the body of Jesus.
Something about the death of Jesus changed things for Joseph. He no longer cared what the religious leaders might do to him. He didn’t seem to fear persecution or judgment. And this led Joseph to do an honorable and selfless thing.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. – Matthew 27:59–60
By preparing Jesus’s body for burial and burying him in a tomb he had purchased for himself, Joseph chose to honor Jesus above himself. He fully believed Jesus was worth everything.
How does your fear of what others think of you impact your willingness to follow Jesus?
Are you willing to sacrifice assets you have earned in order to make Jesus more known?
Is Jesus worth everything to you?