Risk and Sacrifice
“This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance.” Mark 15: 42-46 (NLT)
This is the passage about how Joseph of Arimathea took the recently crucified body of Jesus from the Roman soldiers and buried him in a tomb among the rich. The crucifixion story fulfills many prophesies. One of which is the way he was buried. Read Isaiah 53:9 to find out more about two of Isaiah’s predictions surrounding the of Jesus’ life about 700 years before the crucifixion.
In addition to what Joseph of Arimathea did, there are at least two other interesting things in this passage: The man’s name and his station in religious society. This Joseph was in a similar situation as Jesus’ earthly father. He shared no blood connection with Jesus and could have chosen to walk away from all the trouble he stirred up in the world. But Joseph of Arimathea did not. He went toward Jesus and all He stood for.
In the beginning, I think Joseph of Arimathea embraced Jesus’s teaching in secret. Verse 43 says Joseph took a risk when he went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. What was the nature of this risk? He was going against what the high council, of which he was an honored member, had decided about Jesus. He was revealing his beliefs about this Kingdom that Jesus was ushering in.
Joseph of Arimathea had made up in his mind that he would make a sacrifice of his own status in the Sanhedrin council to follow Truth. What sacrifices are we willing to make to follow Christ’s teaching? If Joseph was willing to throw everything he’d worked for away, no doubt he had heard many sermons about the Kington to come and he had become fully persuaded that Jesus would rise again. Some of his peers had convinced themselves that Jesus’ words were laced with sedition and lies worthy of a shameful and cruel death.
Joseph didn’t throw the Body in the tomb, naked and bloody. Joseph took the time and prepared it properly. We have proof that the women were watching him in secret but I wonder if Joseph’s fellow council members were watching. He didn’t seem to care. He had a self-appointed job to do to prepare the Body of Jesus. I think Joseph spent time with the Body because he was convinced the process was part of the coming of the Kingdom. Ushering in the Kingdom for him involves discernment, risk, sacrifice, and public action. What does a modern-day Joseph of Arimathea look like in a religious society that claims to know Christ but in reality shuns the teachings of the Kingdom Bringer away.
God, help us to be people like Joseph of Arimathea. We want to embrace you regardless of what the world around us may think. Today, as we honor the sacrifice that you made for us, help us to remember that you are worthy of any sacrifice that we may make or risk we may take as you bring your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.