Joseph of Arimathea

Text: Matthew 27:57-60

One of the people we read about in connection with Jesus’ death is Joseph of Arimathea. He took it upon himself to bury the body of Jesus. He is mentioned in all four gospels, but only briefly. There are some lessons we can learn from this man – challenges he faced and traits we can emulate.

The Challenges for Joseph of Arimathea

  • He was a rich man (Matthew 27:57) – difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom (Matthew 19:23-24); not many noble obey the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:26); often hostile to Christians (James 2:6); riches tempt us to rely on wealth rather than God (1 Timothy 6:17; cf. Revelation 3:17)
  • He was a prominent member of the Council (Mark 15:43) – the Council as a whole was opposed to Jesus (John 11:47-53); the few who believed were afraid to confess Him (John 12:42-43); they worried about losing their position (John 11:48); to follow Christ meant giving that up
  • His faith put him in danger (John 19:38) – the reason he was afraid was the threat of being put out of the synagogue (John 9:22; 12:42); this would exclude him from any spiritual, social, and even business contact within the community (Barnes); plus, if they could kill Jesus, they could do that to others (John 11:53; 12:10-11; Acts 7:54-60)

The Traits to Emulate in Joseph of Arimathea

  • He was a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57) – easy to focus on the fact that he was a secret disciple (John 19:38); yet the fact remains that he was a disciple early on; a disciple is a learner, which requires one to continue in Jesus’ words (John 8:31)
  • He was a good and righteous man (Luke 23:50) – he lived according to the law that God had given; we must do good and practice righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 3:7); this is defined in God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • He was waiting for the kingdom (Mark 15:43) – others were too (John 6:15; Luke 17:20; 23:42; Acts 1:6); many misunderstood the nature of Christ’s kingdom (John 18:36); possibly Joseph too; we can be part of the kingdom now (Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13); we should appreciate that fact
  • He did not consent to the Council’s plan (Luke 23:51) – he did not follow the crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2); we are not to go along with the evil around us (Ephesians 5:11)
  • He was able to gather up his courage (Mark 15:43) – he was a secret disciple and in fear of the Jews; however, at this time, he built up the courage necessary to go and ask for the body of Jesus; there may have been times when we have been afraid to speak up for the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75), but we can build up our courage going forward (Acts 4:19-21; 5:27-29, 40-42)
  • He gave his time, effort, and possessions for the Lord (Matthew 27:59-60) – prepared Jesus’ body and used his tomb; we need to give our time to the Lord (Ephesians 5:16; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:25); we need to work for the Lord (Colossians 1:10); we need to use our possessions for the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:2; 1 Timothy 6:18)

What Happened After Jesus’ Resurrection?

  • The Scriptures do not tell us any more about Joseph of Arimathea after the burial of Jesus – though there are uninspired legends and stories about him
  • Might he have been one of the 3,000 who obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost? – maybe
  • Might he have obeyed later after overcoming his fear of the Jews? – perhaps
  • Might he have abandoned his faith through the pressure from his peers? – possibly
  • We can speculate about his future, but we just do not know what happened to him after Jesus’ burial – instead, we need to learn the lessons we find in the Scriptures and apply them to our lives

Conclusion

  • Rather than wondering if Joseph ever obeyed the gospel and served the Lord in the kingdom, we need to look at ourselves
  • Have you obeyed the gospel? – if not, why not?
  • If you have, are you faithfully serving the Lord in His kingdom? – if not, why not?

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